Two days after "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett claimed he was the victim of a hate crime perpetrated by two white supporters of President Donald Trump, actress Ellen Page appeared on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and blamed Vice President Mike Pence for the attack.
“We have a media that’s saying it’s a debate whether or not what just happened to Jussie Smollett is a hate crime. It’s absurd. It isn’t a debate,” Page told Colbert and millions of viewers.
“It feels impossible to not feel this way now with the president and Vice President Mike Pence, who wishes I couldn’t be married,” she continued. “Let’s be clear. The vice president of America wishes I didn’t have the love with my wife. … He has hurt LGBTQ people so badly as the governor of Indiana, and I think the thing we need to know and I hope my show Gaycation did this in terms of connecting the dots in terms of what happened the other day to Jussie, I don’t know him personally, I send all of my love.”
“Connect the dots,” she said. “This is what happens. If you are in a position of power and you hate people and you want to cause suffering to them, you go through the trouble, you spend your career trying to cause suffering, what do you think is going to happen?”
This is, of course, utter nonsense, particularly after new evidence has led authorities to arrest and charge Mr. Smollet for filing a false police report, allegedly paying two African American men to stage the attack on him.
With all this new information, surely Ms. Page is sorry for jumping to conclusions, sorry for telling millions of Americans that Pence is responsible for the attack because of his Christian faith, right?
In fact, in her first time speaking out with regard to Smollett since the new revelations in the case, Page doubled-down on her activism and acknowledged her own “privilege” as a “white cisgender woman,” but notably left out any apology for perpetuating the apparent hoax on national TV, nor did she offer any apology to Mr. Pence.
“The conversation around Jussie Smollett has led us all to examine hate violence and its implications and aftermath. I had no reason to doubt Jussie,” said Page, writing a guest column at The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday. “If this situation was staged, it could make victims even more reluctant to report these crimes. Very real crimes,” she added.
“While the media and public debate the case and await more information, we must not lose sight of the very real, endemic violence that LGBTQ+ people, people of color and other underrepresented communities face every day,” she implored. “I ask you not to question our pain, not to draw into question our trauma, but to maintain, wholeheartedly, that hate violence exists. The merits of one case should not and cannot call that into question. The media coverage does not convey the reality and totality of the cruelty and danger we face. This is the story that must be told.”
Concerning her own “privilege,” Page said she “must speak.”
“To the extent that my visibility and experiences can give voice to others who don't share my privilege and opportunity — and because I take the trust and platform I've been given so very seriously — I must speak,” wrote the actress. “As a queer but white cisgender woman, I benefit from the protections and safety that my income and status afford me,” she said, though Page noted that she has not personally “escaped the threats of violence and the very real acts of violence and harassment that threaten and endanger our community and other underrepresented people.”
Page then stressed that religious leaders, the media, and politicians all help to advance the persecution of LGBT folks.
“When the rhetoric we read and the hate speech we hear comes from our politicians, our media and entertainment, our neighbors and families and our religious leaders, we internalize the pain in damaging, self-defeating ways,” she wrote. “We are wary and afraid to report hate violence. We lose hope as we continue to be victimized. The cruelty, the hate and the words manifest shame. … Cruel words and laws and beliefs cause real suffering.”
Page concluded: “I am going to use my voice and visibility to continue speaking and — as storytellers and members of an industry with a global platform — I implore you to join me."