So. Jussie Smollett might have faked a racist, homophobic assault. That’s cool. I’m cool with that. I’m sure we’re all cool with that, no one’s bothered.
Of course people are bothered. Jesus, how could anyone not be? Look, I’m not going to decide right now if it really was faked because at this point, it won’t even matter. Now that the idea that he faked it has entered the discourse, people who want to believe it was staged are -- no matter the outcome -- going to see it the way they want to and never change their minds. The truth is, whatever happened doesn’t change anything about being LGBTQ in America. I’ll let the folks who care more about celebrity drama deal with Smollett’s problem; I’m more concerned about what people think it means.
One of the first things I saw pertaining to this was some rando who has some severely wounded ego problems to work through regarding the TV actor. Apparently, he thought that he and all straight men deserved some sort of apology if Smollett made it up. Knowing he’s not the only goon who thinks that for some reason, let me just say; We don’t owe you shit. It’s been legal to be gay in this country for only about 15 years. No, really. Let me just remind you that until Lawrence v. Texas, being gay or “committing sodomy” as they put it, was illegal in 14 states and we’ve only been able to legally marry for less than five. Half of America still has no hate crimes legislation for LGBTQ people, and about the same number have no job protections. WE have nothing to apologize for, YOU still owe us an apology for decades of discrimination and violence that is still going on. Hell, you owe us an apology for the fact that just this month, South Dakota advanced a bill to make it illegal for teachers in their schools to even mention transgender people. But you expect us to apologize for reacting emotionally to a report of anti-LGBTQ violence.
In fact, anti-LGBTQ violence has been increasing, so we’re a bit touchy about that subject. In fact, according to a report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, at least one LGBTQ person was murdered per week, on average, from a hate-based crime in 2017. My twitter feed just this weekend showed me a group of gay people being harassed and assaulted in Salt Lake City by a drunken club goer, as well as a queer woman who had a full beer can thrown at her from a car, which hit her in the head. You wonder why we’re jumpy and reactionary?
Portland, Ore., a place I have been told repeatedly is this amazing center of left-wing love, tolerance, and progressive politics, has apparently been subject to a rash of anti-LGBTQ violence to the point that community leaders are organizing meetings. Of course, the Portland police say that have no reports of this violence, but when your police department has been alleged to be rather chummy with the Proud Boys and other violent alt-right protestors, the LGBTQ community might not be keen on calling those cops for help.
For a lot of LGBTQ people, violence and discrimination is honestly just another day. Many don’t live in states and cities that have non-discrimination laws. Many don’t have safe cloistered “gayborhoods” they can live and go out to. For most, there are no conveniently timed videos made on phones, or even sympathetic local news outlets. For most, they’re just happy they lived through it and go about their day. Transgender people had to create their own day of remembrance for their victims of violence because most people weren’t even aware they existed in the first place. Hell, I’m transgender and don’t catch wind of all of the stories. For every victim of a hate crime you hear about, there’s no doubt in my mind that there are four more you don’t. Either they don’t report it, or it doesn’t have the sexy appeal that a sensationalized media looks for and so it remains buried in some police blotter to be forgotten about.
Jussie Smollett faking his assault or not is just a distraction. What happens to him and his career as an actor means nothing to me because there’s another 5,000 actors waiting to take his place. If we lived in a fair and just world, instead of focusing on this absurd drama of “did he or didn’t he,” we would be using this to launch a much larger conversation about anti-LGBTQ violence -- instead we’re going to be absorbed into this stupid scandal and miss the big picture. That's the bigger crime here.