Opinion: I Stood By Jussie Smollett. Now I’m Not So Sure

Opinion: I Stood By Jussie Smollett. Now I’m Not So Sure

03.13.19
"Empire" actor Jussie Smollett in 2018. (Photo: Tracy Apps/Flickr)
03.13.19

A judge ruled this week that cameras will be allowed during Jussie Smollett’s next hearing in court. Last week, the “Empire” actor was charged for filing a false police report and indicted on 16 counts.

Smollett, who is black and gay, claimed that he was attacked during the early hours of Jan. 29 by two males who wrapped a noose around his neck and poured a chemical substance on him. Police have shut down those claims and insist that evidence shows the actor planned the alleged attack on himself because he was upset about his salary on the show “Empire.”

As a queer person and a person of color, I sided with Smollett when the story of the attack first made the news. I know first hand what it feels like — and how scary it is — to be attacked based on how you look. Since the alleged incident, accounts of that night have changed so much that it’s difficult to distinguish what’s true or false. I’m not sure who to believe and what side I should take.

But what I do know, and I’m very sure of, is that I’m disappointed in Smollett if the charges are true. In a time when LGBTQ+ people are fighting for representation in media, it seems unfair that one of the few figures we have would use his platform — and the support of his queer fans — for his personal gain. If he is lying about his attack, he is allowing the experiences of the LGBTQ+ community to be dismissed. I’m sure in the near future when a queer person is attacked and is brave enough to report it, they will be met with scepticism by police and others.

Let’s stop and recognize that queer people and people of color face hate all the time; their stories are just not publicized to this extreme. If I take anything away from Smollett’s case, it’s that I would like to see queer people, who aren’t celebrities, get more support when they decide to come forward and report a crime.

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