In January 2019, the now-disgraced actor Jussie Smollett claimed he was targeted and attacked by apparent supporters of President Donald Trump in an anti-gay, anti-black hate crime.
On Monday, a jury found the former “Empire” actor guilty of having orchestrated a fake hate crime hoax. Soon after, comments made by actor Elliot Page from February 2019 on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert resurfaced, in which Page blamed the “attack” on then-Vice President Mike Pence.
“We have a media that’s saying it’s a debate whether or not what just happened to Jussie Smollett is a hate crime,” Page — who was then known as Ellen Page — said at the time. “It’s absurd….It isn’t a debate.”
Colbert interjected, “I agree.”
Page continued, “Sorry, I’m like, I’m really fired up tonight.”
Colbert encouraged, “You have to be fired up.”
Page then continued:
It feels impossible to not feel this way right now with the president and Vice President Mike Pence, who wishes I couldn’t be married. Let’s just be clear. The vice president of America wishes I didn’t have the love with my wife. He wanted to ban that in Indiana. He believes in conversion therapy. 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. 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?
Kids are going to be abused and they’re going to kill themselves, and people are going to be beaten on the street. I have traveled the world and I have met the most marginalized people you could meet. I am lucky to have this time and the privilege to say this. This needs to f***ing stop.
Shortly after, when information arose which seemed to suggest the attack was a hoax, Page doubled down.
“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 in a guest column at The Hollywood Reporter. “If this situation was staged, it could make victims even more reluctant to report these crimes. Very real crimes,” Page 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,” Page continued. “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.”