Above: A Certain Slant, Jonathan Alexander.

Queer author Jonathan Alexander says he understands—but does not condone—Smollett’s actions

December 10, 2021 (New York, NY) – As reported by CNN, a jury found former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett guilty of lying to police for falsely reporting a hate crime in which he claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack.

Queer author Jonathan Alexander says he understands—but does not condone—Smollett’s actions. Below is a quote from the chapter in Jonathan Alexander’s recently published book, “Bullied: The Story of an Abuse” (Punctum Books, Nov 4) in which he discusses Smollett. 

” … what’s not even recognized because it’s just too perverse to be seen, much less acknowledged, is that someone like Jussie might grow up, so Black, so gay, so damaged by racism and homophobia that staging such a scene is not inconceivable. That it might be the way to cultivate some attention for all the slights, harms, and violations, great and small, that constitute the life of another in this culture, abusive and violent. I have to admit that that makes sense to me. I get that. Not everyone will. But I get it, even though I don’t know Jussie, and I’m not saying that that’s what happened. I have no idea why Jussie Smollett, in this particular time and place, may have fabricated a racist and homophobic assault against his person. Perhaps one day we will know about his particular time and place. But, in the meantime, I can imagine why someone might do such a thing. … I don’t condone it. But I get it.”

“Bulled: The Story of an Abuse” is the second book in Alexander’s The Creep Trilogy. The third, “Dear Queer Self: An Experiment in Memoir” (Acre Books) will be published in March 2022. A related title, “Stroke Book: The Diary of a Blind Spot” (Fordham University Press) was published in October.

Jonathan Alexander is the author, co-author, or editor of twenty-one books. He is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine. His cultural journalism has been widely published, especially in the Los Angeles Review of Books for which he is the Young Adult editor, where founding editor Tom Lutz called him one of “our finest essayists.” 



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