Various news outlets report that openly gay “Empire” star Jussie Smollett was attacked in a hate crime while exiting a Chicago Subway sandwich shop. According to a TMZ report, sources said two men yelled homophobic slurs at him.
“We’re told when he walked out, someone yelled, “Aren’t you that f***ot ‘Empire’ n*****?”
The report went on to say that, “The 2 men — both white and wearing ski masks — viciously attacked Jussie as he fought back, but they beat him badly and fractured a rib. They put a rope around his neck, poured bleach on him and as they left they yelled, “This is MAGA country.”
A CNN report said that Smollett was admitted to Northwestern Hospital and is in “good condition” according to police.
“Given the severity of the allegations, we are taking this investigation very seriously and treating it as a possible hate crime,” police said according to the CNN report.
Beyond being an openly gay black man, Smollett portrays one in his “Empire” role. Also a board member for The Black AIDS Institute, he advocates for HIV/AIDS awareness and LGBTQ visibility. According to a previous Between The Lines interview with Smollett, he said he is “humbled” by the opportunity to provide visibility for the black LGBTQ community.
“And it makes me grateful. I just remember that there was nobody I could see on TV who I could identify with. The very first person that I ever saw who was gay at all, like any member of the LGBTQ community that I could somewhat identify with, was Wilson Cruz (as Rickie Vasquez) on “My So-Called Life.” He was someone of color, and I grew up loving people like Elton John, but I couldn’t identify with Elton John because that’s all I saw,” Smollett said. “I didn’t put two and two together – it wasn’t representation.”