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Xtra Weekly
 A collection of LGBTQ2 news and culture from Xtra and around the world.


Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga/STREPA

Actor Jussie Smollett was charged with felony disorderly conduct on Wednesday for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself.

Here’s the background 👉  On Jan 29, Smollett told Chicago police he was physically attacked by two men around 2 am while the actor was out getting food. The Empire actor — who is Black and openly gay — also claimed a rope was wrapped around his neck and the attackers told him, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to US President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. This attack happened almost a week after a letter threatening Smollett arrived at the Chicago studio where Empire is filmed.

What followed 👉 On Jan 30, police released surveillance footage and tweeted photos of “persons of interest” in the case. The police said there were gaps in the footage and announced the FBI was also involved in the investigation. The following day, the police said footage that showed Smollett with a rope around his neck was found.

On Feb 1, Smollett, through his publicist, released his first public comment. He made his first public appearance the next day at a concert at the Troubadour nightclub in West Hollywood. According to a report by The New York Times, Smollett told the audience, “I have so many words on my heart that I want to say, but the most important thing I can say is thank you so much, and that I’m okay.”

How did we get here 👉 In an interview with Good Morning America, Smollett said he was angry at some people who doubted his version of the alleged account. On Feb 15, Chicago police said they arrested two Nigerian brothers in connection with the alleged attack. The following day, the police announced they were shifting the investigation and sought a follow-up interview with the actor.

On Feb 20, Smollett was charged with with felony disorderly conduct for filing a false police report. The next day, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Jussie Smollett  staged the attack because he was dissatisfied with his salary on Empire.

Two days later, Smollett was suspended from Empire.

What now? 👉 Following the recent development on the Smollett case, celebrities and politicians expressed their opinion on social media. Some people also weighed in on the effects of Smollett’s alleged lies to innocent victims of hate crimes.

What’s next? 👉 We’re following this story closely. It’s important to note that regardless of what happens to this case, hate crimes are real and it’s an important issue we need to address.  


🌎 It’s Black History Month. Here are five Black Canadian queer activists to celebrate.

🌎  Chicago might elect its first lesbian mayor. Lori Lightfoot, a lawyer and activist, is the first out LGBTQ2 candidate to run for Chicago mayor. She is one of 14 candidates for the office in next Tuesday’s municipal election.

🌎  Trump seems clueless of his plans to decriminalize homosexuality abroad. When asked about the plan, he said, “I don’t know which report you’re talking about.” Oh, yikes.

🌎 A Hong Kong politician looks for Taiwanese husband. Ray Chan, Hong Kong’s only openly gay politician, took to Twitter to celebrate Taiwan on becoming the first Asian country to table a same-sex marriage bill on parliament. #LOVEWINS


Image: Giphy



Image: erhui1979/iStock/Getty Images Plus, The Canadian Press/Alexandra Newbould; Francesca Roh/Xtra

“As victim impact statements are read one after the other, one-by-one, these men come alive for us, and we see how traumatizing a loss has been suffered [. . .] One-by-one, the men become people again and are lost again — a theatre of cruelty meant to reenact just how much has been taken: Skandaraj Navaratnam. Abdulbasir Faizi. Majeed Kayhan. Kirushna Kumar Kanagaratnam. Soroush Mahmudi. Dean Lisowick. Selim Esen. Andrew Kinsman.”

Read Anthony Oliveira’s dispatches from Bruce McArthur’s sentencing on Xtra.


Hi fam,

I don’t know about you but I feel like this week’s been longer than Rapunzel’s hair. But as usual, you deserve a pat on the back — or three glasses of wine — for making it to Friday. Cheers!

This week, we’ve heard stories of people (see: Jussie Smollett) allegedly exploiting some of the very real problems that our communities face every day. If these allegations are true, the bigots will be empowered to say hate crimes don’t exist (false). So please, stay resilient and never — ever — let them win.

This weekend, take the time to breathe and tap into what really matters. You know, that thing.

Stay golden.

PS Let’s connect! You can find me on Twitter at @arvinjoaquin. C’mon, say hi! 🙋


Smile, sweetie. There’s no new RuPaul’s Drag Race episode this week but Drag Race herstorian Kevin O’keeffe wonders is the show a victim of its own success? Here’s his piece on how RuPaul’s Drag Race, in the wake of a loathed double win, can become great — and gay — again.

Speaking of Drag Race, our Season 11 recaps and rankings start next week! So see ya, kitty girl! 🙋


Happy Black History Month!

Image: Giphy
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