Police are searching for several assailants suspected of brutally beating a gay couple as the pair walked home from a movie at Chelsea Cinemas around midnight on Wednesday.
Michael Felenchak, 27, and his partner, Peter Norman, 53, said they were holding hands upon leaving the movie theater just after midnight when two men approached them at the corner of West 24th Street and Ninth Avenue, according to the New York Daily News.
"What are you looking at, faggot?" one of the assailants allegedly asked. The slur sparked an argument and fight between the four men, but the gay couple was soon overpowered as four additional men joined in the fight. The assailants eventually fled, but not before they bruised Norman's face and left a cut on Felenchak's chin that required seven stitches, according to the Daily News.
At a press conference with both victims Wednesday, New York City Council speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn condemned the attacks, the latest in a string of ongoing anti-LGBT assaults to plague New York City in recent months. In May a 32-year-old gay man was shot to death at point-blank range while walking down the street in Greenwich Village. Police say the attacker followed the victim and his friend, shouting gay slurs at the men before shooting one of them in the head.
"I am appalled by reports that two men were senselessly beaten in Chelsea simply because they were perceived to be gay," said Quinn, who is herself an out lesbian. "Holding hands as they walked down West 24th Street, they were assaulted as their attackers hurled antigay 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."
Anyone with information about these assaults is asked to contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-866-313-TIPS.