Gay Couple Allegedly Attacked Outside NYC Movie Theater
A gay couple, holding hands, was allegedly attacked outside a Manhattan movie theater after a group of men spewed anti-gay language towards them, NBC 4 New York reports.
Peter Nortman and his boyfriend, Michael Felenchak, said they left a theater in Chelesea just after midnight on Wednesday. According to police, the couple claim two men approached them as they were leaving the movies and one of the men said, "what are you looking at, you faggot."
The suspects then allegedly punched the couple while using anti-gay epithets. Police say that four more men, who are believed to be friends of the attackers, joined the others and helped beat Nortman and Felenchak.
The couple tried to fight back but say there were too many attackers to fend off.
"We did what we could," Nortman told NBC 4 New York. "It was six of them and two of us."
"Typical for the cowards they are," Felenchak told CBS New York. He said that one of the men punched him in the head with brass knuckles.
"I ran into the lobby to try to get away from them, and then they dispersed once they saw that we were in the lobby and told the guy to call the police," Nortman said.
The men were taken to the hospital and Nortman suffered a bruise to the head and needed stitches. Felenchak had a total of seven stitches for a wound under his bottom lip.
"They had to do an MRI," Nortman told NBC 4 New York. "It was scary. We were in the hospital all night long."
NBC 4 New York spoke with some residents in Chelsea, a popular gay neighborhood in NYC, about the incident and if they are now concerned for their safety.
"You wouldn't believe it would happen here," Meryl Stein said. "Everyone is so diverse and tolerant."
New York City's first openly gay City Council Speaker and the city's mayoral candidate, Christine Quinn, held a press conference about the attack and pointed out the increase of anti-gay crimes this summer.
"I am appalled by reports that two men were senselessly beaten in Chelsea simply because they were perceived to be gay," Quinn said in a statement. "Holding hands as they walked down West 24th Street, they were assaulted as their attackers hurled anti-gay slurs. The cowardly individuals who committed this crime do not represent New Yorkers and our community will not be cowed by such violence. New York City's greatest strength is our diversity, and we will not stand for attacks against anyone, for any reason."
She added that year-to-year numbers have show an increase of 70 percent, the Huffington Post reports.
"We need to make sure that this summer does not end the way it began," Quinn said.
CBS NYC reports that sate Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) said the attack moved him to tears.
"It means a lot to me as an LGBT individual that you take it upon yourselves to be here - to represent our community - at such a difficult time," he said.
There have been several anti-gay attacks in NYC this summer, resulting in the shooting death of Mark Carson, who was killed in the West Village in May, after his attacker called him and his partner "gay wrestlers."
More recently, Kevin Atkins and his boyfriend Nick Porto, who was attacked outside Madison Square Garden in May, spoke out on the incident in a New York Times "Op-Doc" video.
"We were walking down the street, enjoying the day, holding hands," Porto said. "From behind us, we hear somebody calling us faggots...I did feel like I could approach these guys and laugh about it."