Young Couple Recounts The Terror Of Being Attacked By Anti-Gay Mob Near Madison Square Garden

Nick Porto and Kevin AtkinsScreenshot/New York TimesThis screenshot from The Times video shows Nick Porto’s injuries.

The spate of vicious, high-profile attacks against gay men in New York this May began with an assault on a young couple in broad daylight, outside one of the most populated places in the city — Madison Square Garden.

That couple, Nick Porto and Kevin Atkins, recounts the horror of having a mob close in on them on May 5 in a heartbreaking “op-doc” in The New York Times.

The two men were holding hands when Porto, 27, began hearing people shouting “faggots” from behind them. “Look at your pants, look at your jeans, look at what you’re wearing,” Porto heard one of them say.

The men, who appeared to be in their 20s, then slowly started walking toward them. “They were all closing in, and they were all wearing Knicks jerseys,” Porto said. Somebody punched him in the nose, and his glasses went flying. The group of men punched and kicked them and ran away before the police came. Atkins, 22, says he was “shell shocked.”

By the end of May, there were 29 reported incidents of anti-gay hate crimes in New York for the year — a 70% increase since the same time last year. One of the victims, 32-year-old Mark Carson, was shot in the face in the West Village, where the gay rights movement began.

The Supreme Court struck down America’s biggest anti-gay law just a few weeks later. “We have marriage now! Yay, yay! Fight’s over,” Porto said sarcastically in The Times video.

It’s difficult to comprehend a moment in time where many gays have the right to marry but still can’t walk down the street in one of America’s most gay-friendly cities without being afraid. Some experts say the rights gays have gained in recent years — the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, marriage equality, and a general cultural acceptance — have sparked a backlash.

“What I think is going on with respect to anti-gay hatred in this country is, it is ratcheting up in direct proportion to the losses that the religious right” have suffered, The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Mark Potok previously told Business Insider. “I think what we are seeing is kind of a desperate anger coming out of a lot of the Christian right groups.”

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