Local LGBTQ Community Troubled by Potential Ramifications of Smollett Case

SACRAMENTO -- Actor Jussie Smollett, the third lead on the hit show "Empire," has gone from being the supposed victim in a beating on the streets of Chicago to a starring role in a felony case brought by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Wednesday afternoon.

"Obviously there's some mental issues going on there, some mental health. I don't know if the people in his circle are failing him or what's happening," said Sacramento resident GaNaene Lewis.

Census data shows there are about 37 million African-Americans living in the U.S. Of that group, only 3.7 percent identify as LGBTQ, according to the Williams Institute.

Lewis runs a meetup group of almost 100 black lesbians in the Sacramento area, a group often marginalized by a triple minority status.

She’s most concerned for her community as the story around Smollett evolves.

"I feel like there will be even more of a suspicion of, 'Oh, you're playing the race card, you're playing the gay card, you're playing the whatever card.' Much like women in the #MeToo movement," Lewis told FOX40. "One person who may have lied, it affects the entire thing. I just feel like, on the one hand, we're going to be less trusted and, on the other hand, someone may not say anything. Something may happen to someone and they're going to be like, 'Nope, I'm not gonna say anything because no one's gonna believe me.'"

Sacramento transgender activist and hate crime victim Grace Felicia Lawrence spoke out to FOX40 in support of Smollett soon after he reported the alleged beating.

Out of town advocating for safe spaces for transgender people, she told FOX40 by phone she’s saddened by the new details and hopes they don’t dampen support for those who have suffered shootings and acid attacks like her.

Empire‘s writers and 20th Century Fox have backed Smollett online throughout the investigation. The last tweet from Fox came out Wednesday morning at 9:25, calling him a "consummate professional."

FOX40 asked the director of Sacramento’s LGBTQ Center for comments about Wednesday’s developments and any concern that such a situation could bring harm to local people. He told FOX40 via email that most likely he would not comment while the investigation is still ongoing.

Citing a report by California’s attorney general, he also wrote that "regardless of the outcome, the indisputable fact remains that hate crimes are on the rise and that many bias incidents are un/under-reported.”

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