Attack on gay men's friend being investigated as a hate crime - Omaha.com
Published Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 5:22 pm
Attack on gay men's friend being investigated as a hate crime

Update: Omaha Police said Thursday officers are investigating this incident as a hate crime.

Anyone with information about the crime is encouraged to anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 402-444-STOP.

Omaha Marine punched after standing up for gay friends, spurring anti-hate-crime rally

Gay rights activists in Omaha want people to know there's nothing scary about a man in a dress.

They will be hosting a rally Saturday to take a stand against hate crimes and homophobia.

The rally was organized in response to an assault that happened early Sunday in the Old Market.

Ryan Langenegger of Omaha, a 22-year-old straight man and Marine, said he was punched in the face after he peacefully defended his two gay friends.

He went to a drag show last Saturday with Joshua Foo, 29, and Jacob Gellinger, 25, who was wearing a dress. After the show, the men headed over to PepperJax Grill in the Old Market to get a bite to eat. It was after 2 a.m.

Langenegger said a man gave him and his friends trouble inside the restaurant. He came over to their table and stared at Gellinger. Langenegger and his friends decided to leave.

They were followed out of the restaurant by three men who started making derogatory statements, Langenegger said.

The men blocked their path. The same man who had approached their table kept repeating, “Should I?”

Langenegger didn't know what he meant.

He and Foo recalled Gellinger saying, “I know I am a boy in a dress.”

The man replied, “Yeah, and you're (expletive) disgusting,” Langenegger recounted.

Langenegger told the man he and his friends didn't want any trouble and just wanted to go home.

Then someone punched Langenegger in the face, resulting in a gash on his forehead, a bruised eye, bloody nose and two chipped teeth.

Langenegger said he looked up and said, “Why? Why would you do this?” and repeated that he wasn't going to fight.

The three men started laughing and walked away, Langenegger said.

Foo called 911, and Langenegger filed a police report and has since talked to a detective about the incident. No arrests had been made.

“Hopefully more people realize this is a problem,” Langenegger said. “People need to be more accepting of everyone.”

Mayor Jean Stothert said in a statement Thursday that she's confident the Omaha Police Department will conduct a thorough investigation.

"Hate crimes in our community will not be tolerated and should be reported and investigated," she said.

The gay community is calling Langenegger a hero, said Chad Bugge, a drag queen who is helping to organize Saturday's event.

Bugge, better known by his stage name Anna Roxia, attends drags shows in Omaha often and doesn't want drag queens to feel unsafe.

“I wanted to show in broad daylight that there is nothing to fear about gay people and there is nothing disgusting about drag,” Bugge said of the rally. “Drag is fun and it has been the source of entertainment for the gay community for years.”

Foo said he wishes more people were like Langenegger, who doesn't judge anyone and is accepting.

“Ryan is straight, but he is really comfortable around gay people,” Foo said. “He is a loyal friend.”

He added, “We need to treat all people with respect.”

The “Drag Out Hate!” rally will start at 4 p.m. at 13th and Howard Streets. Drag queens will lead a peaceful walk through the Old Market.

Bugge hopes the walk will spread the word against hate and educate people about drag. Anyone is welcome to attend, he said.

Contact the writer: Alissa Skelton

alissa.skelton@owh.com    |   402-444-1066    |  

Alissa is a breaking news and general assignment reporter for Omaha.com.

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