A gay man feared for his life while he was attacked in Liverpool, England, over the weekend.
Right after midnight on Saturday, a group of men attacked Aodhan Benson, a 24-year-old from Belfast, while hurling homophobic slurs.
"If this is what being gay means, then I don't want to be gay," Benson told The Liverpool Echo. "Literally, if this is what my sexuality results in, then I'll not be gay then, if you just leave me alone."
He added, "Because I'm only 24, so what happens if it happens when I'm 34, 44, 54? How many more times will it happen to me? Like, why are people so horrible? It's just sick."
Police were called to a Tesco grocery store at 12:25 a.m., according to the outlet. As Benson sat with some friends, a man walked up to them and started talking. At one point, Benson addressed the man as "love," causing the man to become angry.
"He went, 'Love, why would you say 'love'? Only faggots would say love,'" Benson told the Echo. "And I was like, 'Well, I am a faggot.' And he went, 'You're a what?' I was like, 'I'm a faggot,' because I'm not ashamed to say it."
After telling the man to leave, Benson was punched by him. While Benson attempted to defend himself, a couple of men who knew the first man joined in attacking Benson
"It was just really scary, just because like, when all three of them were hitting me, I was like 'Oh, my God, what if I die?'" Benson said.
In a tweet, Benson posted an image of his injuries. He said while he hated people sometimes, he's been able to get a lot of support.
Benson's friends tried to photograph the attackers as the assailants ran away.
The Echo reported that hate crimes rose by 25 percent since last year in the area.
Two men were arrested, according to The Belfast Telegraph.
"This was an appalling incident which left a young man shaken and injured," Merseyside Police Chief Inspector Col Rooney said, according to the outlet. "Although we have made arrests, our investigations into the attack will continue."
He added that authorities believed the homophobic slurs were directed at the victim, so they are treating the case as a hate crime.
"After a number of worrying incidents over the last month, we want our LGBT+ community to be reassured that we stand with them: we are committed to protecting them, and we will do whatever we can to bring offenders to justice," said Rooney.