Jussie Smollett performed last night for the first time since being attacked in Chicago earlier this week, telling the crowd at the Troubador in West Hollywood that “he had to be here tonight, y’all” as he fought back tears, according to Variety. “I can’t let the motherf—ers win.”
The “Empire” actor, who is gay, says his two attackers used both homophobic and racial slurs on January 29 and wrapped a rope around his neck to simulate lynching. Chicago police are investigating the incident as a 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.”
“Just because there has been a lot of stuff said about me that’s absolutely not true…” said the actor and singer, likely in reference to some online commenters’ doubts about his account of the incident. “I’m sure my lawyer’s sitting up there like, ‘No, Jussie, no! No! Shut the f— up and sing.'”
Smollett had notes with him onstage and shared “four points” with the audience: “I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked; they were not broken. 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 f— back.”
Smollett also referred to himself as “the gay Tupac” and concluded the evening by announcing, “We are proud. We are gay.”