SACRAMENTO – A local activist and member of the LGBTQ community spoke out in support of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
“Only a person whose been through a horrific hate crime will know what a person is going through,” said Grace Felicia Lawrence.
Lawrence says she can identify with Jussie Smollett, being a victim of a hate crime.
“I’m a three time hate crime survivor,” she said.
Ten years ago, while in San Francisco, she survived being shot in the head.
“That bullet is still in my head today,” Lawrence said.
There were no witnesses but, she kept fighting.
“Bare all these scars,” Lawrence expressed. “After five years, then the battery acid.”
Battery acid… which someone threw on her.
Lawrence says the recent attack on Jussie Smollett brought back painful memories. But she recognizes they share similar strengths.
“We black, we are confident, but we are LBGT folks… intelligent and nice,” she said.
She says those attributes are the reason for her third attack.
“I’m walking home in a mini-dress, feeling fabulous. I had a great night, met wonderful people,” Lawrence recalled.
That’s when a group of men zeroed in on her.
“They wasn’t having it,” Lawrence said. “They attacked me. But I handled my business and four of them went to the hospital.”
Grace defended herself. She survived yet again.
“From the shooting and the battery acid, I have told my friends and family, I will never allow nobody to hurt me again,” Lawrence stated. “And I still have that minidress because it means a lot to me. It was the day that I fought back.”
Grace, a native of Liberia, who transitioned at age 21, served as the Grand Marshal at the Pride Parade in Sacramento last year.
She is also the founder of local non-profit: Global Transgender Safety Task Force.
She says there are many haters of people who are gay, black and successful.
She urges those in the LBGTQ community to take care and be vigilant when it comes to personal safety.
And for Jussie Smollett and the days ahead, Lawrence says, “stay focused on getting well. Keeping himself safe. And be around people that love him.”