Gay Man Scared To Go Out In Hometown After Surviving Violent Hate Crime

A gay man in Northern Ireland is living in fear after being kicked and called an “HIV-ridden bastard” during a horrific homophobic attack.

Dean Wheeler, a 23-year-old retail worker, was attacked earlier this month while walking back home from a night out in Enniskillen, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Prior to the incident, Wheeler heard an unidentified man shouting “queer boy.”

“After that, I heard ’faggot’ being shouted and the next thing I know I was shoved to the ground and kicked in the ribs and head while they called me an ’HIV-ridden bastard,’ and all this,” recalls Wheeler, who was finally saved by passing stranger.

“Another man came out of nowhere and just ripped him off me,” Wheeler says. “The next thing I remember was waking up at home the next morning.”

“I’ll never go out in this town again, never,” he continues. “If that man hadn’t have helped, God knows how far it would have gone.”

Addressing his assailant directly, Wheeler asks, “How do you live with yourself?”

RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage tweeted a link to Wheeler’s story, asking her followers to follow him and send him love. “Breaks my heart,” she wrote.

Wheeler says he endured online abuse after coming out as gay about two years ago. “I got people making fake accounts on Facebook and telling me I’m going to die from HIV and things like that. I pass these people off because I don’t care about their opinion, but it’s different when somebody actually hit me because I’m gay.”

“Hate crime robs people of their confidence, their independence,” says Aisling Twomey of the Rainbow Project, a Northern Irish advocacy group. “Under-reporting remains a key issue in tackling anti-LGB&T hate crime in Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. that does not allow same-sex couples to marry. Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland can currently only register as civil partners.

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