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Billy Porter Feels ‘Rage’ After Racist, Homophobic Attack on Jussie Smollett: ‘It’s Very Difficult’ (Exclusive)

Billy Porter Admits He Feels ‘Rage’ Following Homophobic Attack on Jussie Smollett: ‘It’s Very Difficult’
Billy Porter and Jussie Smollett. Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images; Gary Gershoff/WireImage/Getty Images

A powerful message. Billy Porter is having a hard time wrapping his head around the violence that was inflicted on Jussie Smollett on Tuesday, January 29, but one emotion is at the forefront — anger.

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“I just feel rage,” the Kinky Boots alum, 49, told Us Weekly exclusively at the 34th annual Artios Awards in New York City on Thursday, January 31. “And until I can turn the rage into something that’s active, I’m trying to be respectful and not just vomit all over everybody … because that’s what I feel like doing.”

While Porter — who is openly gay — acknowledged that the Empire star, 36, has many people who “stand with him,” he isn’t sure “what the action is” to prevent similar crimes from happening again in the future.

“It’s very difficult. It’s very close, you know?” the American Horror Story actor continued. “I’m almost 50 years old and I’m a black man. I’ve been living with targets on my back my whole life.”

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He added: “The fact that we can wake up and we still have to say, ‘We’re investigating a ‘possible’ hate crime’ when someone has been noosed and called ‘that f—got n—ga from Empire …’ We’re still investigating whether it’s a hate crime? It’s that kind of stuff that I have lost my grace when it comes to talking about. So, I’m trying to figure it out.”

As for Smollett’s future? Porter has no doubt that the Marshall star will come out on top. The Tony winner noted: “I’ve reached out to Jussie; he’s fine. He’s a strong man. We’ll figure out what to do with it. We’ll figure out where to go from this.” He added, however, that “everyone has to wake up” because “we’re in a civil war for our lives.”

Smollett was attacked in Chicago on Tuesday, January 29. Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi confirmed to Us that the singer-songwriter was attacked by two people who were yelling “racial and homophobic slurs toward him.”

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“The offenders began to batter the victim with their hands about the face and poured an unknown chemical substance on the victim.” Guglielmi added. “At some point during the incident, one of the offenders wrapped a rope around the victim’s neck.” Smollett was hospitalized and later released “in good condition.”

The following day, “potential persons of interest” were identified by the Chicago Police Department, but no arrests have been made at this time.

The Smollett family released an emotional statement regarding the “racial and homophobic hate crime” on Thursday. They wrote: “We, as a family, will continue to work for love, equity and justice until it reigns supreme in our nation and all over the world.”

With reporting by Lexi Ciccone

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