Manhattan, NY (PIX11) – Late Friday night, Eugene Lovendusky was just walking down 42nd Street near 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen with his friends when he says a group of teenagers walked by, spouting off homophobic slurs at them.
“They started yelling ‘f****t’ at us, and I spun on my heels because I am worth defending… and I got punched. Then my friend stepped up trying to defend and he was told ‘Do want to be next f****t?’ But by then I had my phone out and the cops came right away,” Lovendusky told PIX 11 near his Queens home.
At that moment, he became the city’s 9th victim in a string of anti-LGBT hate crimes within only a month.
But do not call him a victim, he says, because he is resilient and proud of who he is, which happens to be the head of a local organization that fights for LGBT rights.
Lovendusky’s reaction to being punched in the face for being gay? Picking up his phone.
“No matter how big or small one feels the assault may be, to report it. The more reporting the more public conversation, the more awareness,” said Lovendusky.
The head of the New York City Anti-Violence Project says, the reporting of hate crimes against the LGBT community is up considerably this year.
And to Lovendusky, that could actually be a good thing.
“I want to bring you back to a few summers ago, during all the gay teen suicides… And how impactful that was in America…. The fact is, gay teens have been committing suicide since the dawn of time, but they were being reported. People started national conversation which led to anti bullying legislation.”
That Lovendusky reported the crime immediately is exactly what Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has been urging to hate crime victims, in the wake of the crime spree.
Lovendusky believes reporting these crimes is paramount to perpetrate the hate.
“Maybe one more, two more reports will make an elected official step forward and say I’m going to support legislation for federal equality,” said Lovendusky.
Police say they arrested Lovendusky’ assailant, Manuel Riquelme,19, of Manhattan, and charged him with hate crime and aggravated harassment.
Lovendusky said, “I hope the message it sends, is that, hate speech and hate crimes are not allowed.”