Jussie Smollett appeared on Good Morning America Thursday to, once more, clarify details surrounding the January 29 attack on him in Chicago. In the interview, he explained why some of the initial reports regarding the attack suggested that he didn't cooperate fully with the police. First, Smollett explained why he didn't even want to go to the police in the first place.
"There's a level of pride there," said Smollett. "We live in a society where as a gay man you are considered somehow to be weak and I'm not weak. I am not weak and we as a people are not weak."
He later added that he had not wanted to give his phone to authorities because he was protective of private information on his device. Finally, he clarified that he never told authorities that his attackers were wearing MAGA hats, a detail that ended up in initial reports.
"I never said that. I didn't need to add anything like that," Smollett said.
This story was originally published on February 3, 2019 at 11:15 a.m.
“I had to be here tonight, y’all,” he told the crowd, according to Variety. “I can’t let the motherfuckers win.”
Smollett was attacked Monday, only days before his previously scheduled concert. Initial reports said the actor was attacked by two white men who shouted racist and homophobic slurs at Smollett, and proceeded to beat him, pour an unknown chemical substance on him, and put a noose around his neck. The FBI are investigating it as a possible hate crime.
“I have so many words on my heart,” Smollett said. “The most important thing I have to say is thank you so much and that I’m okay. I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to. And I’m gonna stand strong with y’all...l will always stand for love. I will never stand for anything other than that. Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love. And I hope that you all will stand with me. So now...let’s do it.”
Smollett thanked several notable audience members for attending, including members of the Empire cast, California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Empire showrunner Lee Daniels, and actor Wilson Cruz. “I promised myself I was not gonna cry tonight…Someone in the crowd that I want to recognize: Wilson Cruz is someone I identified with growing up,” the actor said during the show. “I stand on the backs of so many people — of the Lee Daniels and the Wilson Cruzes — and I pray to God I make you all proud.”
In addition to words of inspiration, Smollett took this time to set the record straight on the details of the attack, saying, “Just because there has been a lot of stuff said about me that’s absolutely not true.”
He went on to address four points. “I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked; they were not broken,” he began. “I went to the doctor immediately…I was not hospitalized. Both my doctors in L.A. and Chicago cleared me to perform, but said to take care, obviously. And above all: I fought the fuck back.”
In Smollett’s call to action for more love, he denounced hatred and said this is the time to be "blacker" and “gayer," according to CNN. "I don't even care to name any names," he said. "The hateful rhetoric that gets passed around, it has to stop. But guess what, it stops with the people that believe in love."
While the evening was an emotional one, Smollett still lifted spirits with few jokes, calling himself “the gay Tupac” before his encore, but the evening still ended on an empowered note.
Smollett left the crowd with these words before exiting the stage: “We are proud. We are gay.”