Jussie Smollett, an openly gay actor in the TV series Empire, has been hospitalised after he was attacked in downtown Chicago. Police have confirmed that they’re investigating the incident as a suspected homophobic and racist attack after “two unknown offenders approached Smollett and gained his attention by yelling out racial and homophobic slurs”.
Smollett, 36, was in the city to film parts of the popular show (in which he plays gay character Jamal Lyon) when he went for a meal at a takeaway restaurant sometime after midnight on Tuesday. While walking back to his apartment he was accosted in the street by two men who started shouting homophobic and racist slurs at him. Smollett told police that he was then beaten in the face and had an unknown substance, possibly bleach, thrown onto him. The men also proceeded to put a rope around his neck before fleeing the scene.
While Smollett didn’t report the attack initially, his manager called police at 2:42 a.m. before the actor was taken to hospital for the treatment of lacerations on his face and neck. He was later released.
In addition, the FBI has entered the investigation after it’s been revealed that the actor also received a threatening letter on Tuesday January 22 that could be connected to the attack. It’s been reported that the letter states, “You will die black faggot,” and included a white powdery substance (later found not to be dangerous).
Smollett first came out as gay on US television in 2015 when he appeared on Ellen. During the interview, he told her that “there is, without a doubt, no closet that I’ve ever been in and I just wanted to make that clear”.