Ever since Empire star Jussie Smollett reportedly became the victim of a racist, homophobic attack last month, the story has been trailed with suspicions that he could be lying. Many were inclined to believe this even more when he refused to tender his phone to the Chicago Police Department to help in the investigation, in order to help catch his attackers.
Jussie Smollett hiring two Nigerian princes off an email scam to dress up as Trump supporters and attack him is the plot twist we deserve in 2019
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) February 17, 2019
Now, the latest report on the case is that the two men initially arrested in connection with the assault on Smollett are Nigerian brothers — identified as Ola and Abel Osundairo — and were captured on surveillance video at the time that Smollett said he was attacked. Even quite shocking is that they have now been released following their confession that Smollett reportedly hired them to stage his assault on January 29, 2019. Furthermore, they have been dismissed as suspects and are currently co-operating with the police. It’s a whole lot to take in, I know, and goes further to harm and discredit real victims of racist and homophobic attacks.
Nonetheless, if the story turns out to be a hoax, it shouldn’t be weaponised to invalidate the abuse, violence and dehumanisation that LGBTQ people face, especially in countries where homosexuality is criminalised. This rare, singular case shouldn’t be used to discredit victims of sexual assault, especially queer victims. So far, Smollett is yet to comment on the release of the Nigerian brothers, or make a statement about this new development that has seemingly thrown the authenticity of his attack out of the window.