Jussie Smollett outburst: Black LGBTQ community members explain why actor yelled 'I am not suicidal'

Saturday, March 12, 2022
Black LGBTQ community members explain Smollett's outburst in court
After Jussie Smollett yelled "I am not suicidal" following his sentencing, Black LGBTQ community members explain his court outburst.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some members of Chicago's Black LGBTQ+ community said they understood why Jussie Smollett's repeatedly said he was not suicidal Thursday before heading to serve out his sentence.

WATCH | Jussie Smollett's outburst in court

Jussie Smollett had an emotional outburst in a Chicago court room after he was sentenced, yelling "I am not suicidal!"

Jae Rice, the communications director for Brave Space Alliance, said Black queer people aren't safe in prison.

"He was trying to say if anything was to happen to him in prison, like what happens to so many Black queer and trans folks, he wanted the rest of the world to know that it wasn't suicide," Rice said.

SEE ALSO | Jussie Smollett begins serving 150-day sentence in Cook County Jail in protective custody

Brave Space Alliance is a Black and trans-led LGBTQ+ center on the South Side.

Rice believes Smollett's 150-day sentence for lying to Chicago police about an anti-Black and anti-gay hate crime was excessive.

WATCH | Judge scolds Jussie Smollett at sentencing

Cook County Judge James Linn's full remarks at Jussie Smollett's sentencing for disorderly conduct.

"If we are talking about a supposed hoax here, a supposed lie...150 days in prison, that can be a death sentence for Black queer folks," he said.

Shakur Silas, the program manager for the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, said many in the Black and Brown LGBTQ+ community were already distrustful of law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

"A lot of people are probably watching this and experiencing some type of trauma from experiences they have had with the legal system," he said.

LGBTQ+ activists say no matter one's opinion about the Smollett case, hate crimes do happen every day.

Haquann Chavours, the program assistant for the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, said they have first-hand experience.

"I actually have been targeted before, a few times. I don't necessarily have a fear of it because it is something we learned to live with," Chavours said.