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Apparent hate crime against two Folsom Street Fair tourists

Neil Frias and Jeff White say they were attacked in SF for just being gay.
Photo credit:
Courtesy Jeff White

SAN FRANCISCO, Ca., -- Two friends visiting San Francisco for the annual fetish festival “Folsom Street Fair,” said their fun was cut short after a group of men pepper sprayed them allegedly just for being gay.

SF Gate reports that Neil Frias and Jeff White were in the City by the Bay to experience its progressive nature and acceptance, but instead encountered hate and homophobia.

“I’m trying to make sense of it,” Frias told SF Gate on Sunday. “I would think what happened last night would happen somewhere else, not here.”

The two victims are originally from New York and arrived in San Francisco for the weekend to celebrate the city’s ode to kinky subculture.

The men said they were attacked at about 9 pm outside a McDonalds at Golden Gate Avenue and Fillmore Street.

Frias claims that as he was leaving the restaurant five men pulled around in a blue minivan, "They were saying, ‘You fags are destroying family values,’ I said I didn’t want any trouble, and one of them got out of the van. I thought he was going to take a swing at me, but he sprayed me.”

He continues to say that while he was suffering from a “searing sting” to the eyes another assailant approached him with another can of the chemical while a third person attacked his friend who was curled up into a ball to avoid getting doused.

“I was completely vulnerable,” he said. “I thought they were going to start beating me.”

After a woman bystander spotted the attack she yelled that she was calling the authorities which made the assailants jump back into their vehicle and speed away.

Authorities and medical assistance arrived and treated the two men who returned to their hotel on Union Square.

“The thing that was the most remarkable about the situation is how unprovoked it was,” White said afterwards. “I was literally tying my shoe when they came at me. It’s mind-boggling.”

The San Francisco Police Department are aware of the crime and are currently looking through surveillance video to see if they can get a closer look at the attackers.

A spokesperson for the San Francisco Police department said, “We take the crimes very seriously. If anybody feels they can attack someone based on their sexual preference, we’re going to go after them and hold them accountable.”

The two men have recovered from the effects of the spray, and were ready to visit the fair on Sunday, but are disappointed that they couldn’t enjoy an evening of fun in the Golden Gate.

 “I’m mad that I didn’t get to go out last night,” White said. “It’s Saturday night in San Francisco Folsom week.”