The is the horrors faced as a black, gay man. In my Sophia Petrillo voice, picture this: You’re an openly gay, black man. You’re an advocate for the LGBTQ community. You’re one of the breakout stars on a highly successful series on a major network. You’re adored by millions. However, on one morning in January 2019, you become a trending topic because your Blackness, your gayness, and your advocacy have all been viciously attacked. This morning, actor Jussie Smollett survived an insidious attack in Chicago according to CNN. 2 people wearing ski-masks, assumed to be men, viciously attacked Smollett while hurling racial and homophobic slurs. He was doused with an undetermined chemical before a noose was tied around his neck. According to Smollett the perpetrators were reportedly shouting “This is MAGA Country.” This is after a week of receiving a threatening letter saying “You will die Black fag.”
While Smollette is reportedly in good condition and has been released from a Chicago-area hospital, his attack sent shockwaves throughout the industry. With many celebrities posting their heartfelt wishes this attack is the latest indicator of how grim and backward-leaning this country has become. Yes, racism and homophobia will exist under any president. However, with a racist president currently slouched in the White House who rolls back on protection laws and civil rights on the LGBTQ (specifically the “T” part) community, the gravity of this attack shouldn’t come as a shock. The fact that MAGA-supporting bigots (allegedly) would target anyone isn’t surprising. After all, the wife of the our Vice President- who historically has been homophobic- just took a job teaching at a Virginia high school that has a strict anti-LGBTQ policy. From the recent ban of transpeople servicing in the military to Trump enforcing a policy to exclude LGBTQ Americans from being recognized in the 2020 Census- this country doesn’t reflect what a 2019 America should look like.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Ellen DeGeneres had Kevin Hart on her show after his past homophoic tweets resulted in dismisall from hosting the Oscars. Reportely he was given a choice of issuing an updated apology or stepping down as host. He stepped down because…ego and general male-sensitivity. On her show, Ellen encouraged him to simply “ignore the haters” aka people who were critical of Hart’s non-apology for making jokes about PHYSICALLY ASSAULTING HIS YOUNG SON if he suspected his son was gay. To be clear- the joke was 10 years old, back when homophobia was still not funny, and Hart’s perceived dismal of the outcry was the source of contention for most. DeGeneres received a considerable amount of backlash with her defense of Hart, even calling the Academy to get his Oscar hosting gig back, for not seeing the bigger picture. Violence against any marginalized group is not funny. It should never be defended. A simple hart-felt (see what I did there) apology would’ve made the Kevin Hart scandal go away. It’s interesting to note that Smollett publically came out as a gay man on The Ellen DeGeneres show back in 2015. As of this writing, she hasn’t publicly spoken about Smolett’s attack. Apparently, the underwhelming FRIENDS-reunion on her show with only 2 Friends is more important according to the show’s social media feeds.
The attack on Jussie Smollett should never have happened. The response ignoring his intersectionality as a Black man and as a gay man shouldn’t be happening. Perhaps if we don’t make light of jokes that are inherently anti-______ and perhaps we ALL hold the current administration accountable for their language and decisions this country can get better. I wish Jussie a speedy physical and mental recovery.