Jussie Smollett sang on stage and said he “couldn’t let them win” after he was subjected to a vicious homophobic and racist assault.
The Empire actor and R&B singer took to the stage in his first public appearance since two masked men attacked him and put a rope around his neck in Chicago earlier in the week.
The Chicago Sun Times reports that he told the crowd at the Troubador in West Hollywood: “The most important thing I can say is ‘thank you so much, and I’m OK.”
“I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to be, and I’m gonna stand strong with y’all.”
He added: “I had to be here tonight, y’all. I couldn’t let those (expletives) win.
“I will always stand for love. I will only stand for love.”
Jussie told police that two masked men jumped him on his walk home at around 2am on Tuesday.
He said they punched him, subjected him to racist and homophobic insults, threw an “unknown chemical substance” on him and put a thin rope around his neck before fleeing.
Speaking on stage in Hollywood, he said he was bruised but his ribs were not cracked and confirmed he was not hospitalised — but immediately saw a doctor.
He also told the crowd: “And above all, I fought the (expletive) back. I’m the gay Tupac.”
Detectives have recovered more surveillance footage of Jussie walking home from a Subway restaurant that morning, including video of him arriving at his apartment building with a rope around his neck.
In a statement released to Essence magazine after the attack the gay star said he was doing “OK”.
He said: “Let me start by saying that I’m OK. My body is strong but my soul is stronger. More importantly I want to say thank you. The outpouring of love and support from my village has meant more than I will ever be able to truly put into words.”
“I am working with authorities and have been 100 per cent factual and consistent on every level. Despite my frustrations and deep concern with certain inaccuracies and misrepresentations that have been spread, I still believe that justice will be served.
“As my family stated, these types of cowardly attacks are happening to my sisters, brothers and non-gender conforming siblings daily. I am not and should not be looked upon as an isolated incident.”
Reports of the attack drew a flood of outrage and support for Jussie on social media.
Some of the outrage stemmed from Jussie’s account to detectives that his attackers yelled that he was in “MAGA country,” a reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again”.
This article was originally published in The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.