Actor Jussie Smollett performed in concert at the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Saturday night. It was his first public appearance since he was allegedly attacked in Chicago earlier in the week.
The Empire star performed to a packed house that included director Lee Daniels and California Rep. Maxine Waters.
Smollett, 36, spoke out about the alleged attack in which 2 masked men punched him in the face, poured bleach on him, and tied a “noose” around his neck after hurting racial and homophobic slurs.
“I fought the f*ck back,” Smollett told the cheering crowd.
“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.”
Chicago police reviewed hundreds of hours of video footage but failed to find a single sign of the attackers.
Smollett initially told police he was attacked after he left a Subway restaurant on his way to his manager’s apartment around 2:15 a.m. Tuesday.
Video footage inside the lobby of his manager’s high-rise condominium shows Smollett still holding onto his Subway sandwich after the alleged attack.
Smollett told the sold-out club that he didn’t break or bruise any ribs, as was originally reported.
After landing in Los Angeles, he said he “immediately” went to his doctor who gave him the okay to perform.
He added, “I’m the gay Tupac!”
Fighting back tears, Smollett urged his fans to “Be blacker, be gayer!”
Smollett shouted out to his boyfriend who was in the audience. He called him his “man” and thanked him for standing strong through the chaotic week’s events.
Toward the end of his set, Smollett performed his song “Heavy” from the scripted Fox TV show Empire. He explained that the song’s lyrics had new meaning.
“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.”