An openly gay Illinois State University student had to have his jaw wired shut after allegedly being beaten by a group of men who shouted homophobic slurs as he was returning home after a party.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that 23-year-old Eric Unger was walking home when a group of five to eight African-American males passed him from behind, and one of them knocked his cell phone out of his hand. After he asked "what their problem was," Unger says the group attacked him, hurling anti-gay epithets.
"They just wanted to hurt somebody," Unger, a family relations major who hopes to work with LGBT youth, recalled for CBS. "The last thing I remember is just being blindsided by six or eight guys, and then I woke up on the concrete."
Unger reportedly suffered scrapes and bruises around his face, broken teeth, and a fractured jaw. Unger had to have his jaw wired shut for the next four to six weeks, leaving him with limited speech and on a liquid-only diet as he recovers, the Chicago Phoenix is reporting.
At present, the Normal Police Department have not classified the attack as a hate crime. “At this point, that’s part of our investigation,” Chief of Police Rick Bleichner told the Phoenix. “Initially, there was no claim about that. That’s why we are doing the investigation to determine anything further about that."
Unger, however, begs to differ. "I know this is a hate crime, just because of the words that they said and just how they were saying it," he told CBS. "You know, if there was a group of white guys, you know, attacking a black guy, saying [discriminatory] words to him, that would be a hate crime, wouldn’t it?"