Jussie Smollett performed Saturday at West Hollywood's Troubadour in his first public appearance since being assaulted in Chicago earlier in the week. The Empire star addressed the attack as he held back tears in front of the supportive audience.
"The most important thing that I can say is to keep it simple and say thank you and I’m okay," Smollett said. "I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to and I’m going to stand strong with you all. I had to be here tonight. I couldn’t let those motherf*ckers win."
Smollett also straightened out a few details about the attack. According to him, his ribs were bruised—not cracked—and he did fight back. "I'm the gay Tupac," Smollett exclaimed
Smollett was attacked by two masked men allegedly shouting racial and homophobic slurs while walking near his Chicago apartment. The attackers reportedly hit him multiple times, doused him with bleach, and put a noose around his neck. No suspect has been apprehended in what's being investigated as a hate crime.
The brutal attack led many to speak out against what Chicago police are labeling as a "possible hate crime." Empire co-creator Lee Daniels spoke out in support of Smollett while the actor/singer's family called the incident "domestic terrorism."
Smollett also issued an official statement where he explains that he is working with authorities to ensure justice is served. His message to the L.A. audience was one of both defiance and positivity.
"So, I will always stand for love, I will never stand for anything other than that," Smollett told the audience. "Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love and I hope you will all stand with me."