Preston man, 22, beaten unconscious in homophobic attack outside city centre McDonald's
A 22-year-old man from Fulwood has spoken out after thugs beat him unconscious in a homophobic attack in Preston city centre.
Ryan Williams, a receptionist at Holiday Inn, was subjected to a vicious assault outside McDonald's in Friargate on Saturday, July 13.
The unprovoked attack happened after Ryan and his friends had enjoyed a Friday night out in Preston city centre.
At around 6.30am on Saturday morning, the group began making their way towards McDonald's for breakfast.
Ryan said he and his friends were taunted outside McDonald's by a group of people in Friargate, who had hurled homophobic slurs at them.
The 22-year-old bravely confronted the group and asked them not to use the obscene and offensive terms.
"There were a group of people nearby in the street and they started calling me and my friends gay", said Ryan.
"We went over and told them it’s not okay to say things like that.
"But as I walked away one of them ran after me and he hit me in the back of the head."
Ryan collapsed on the ground from the force of a blow to the back of his skull.
His friends told police that as Ryan lay unconscious on the pavement, the man continued to kick him in the face and stomp on him.
The assailant then fled from the scene in the company of two other men and a woman.
An ambulance was called to the scene and Ryan was taken to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment.
He suffered a number of facial injuries, including deep bruising and lacerations to his lips and eyebrows.
Lancashire Police said they are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
A police spokesman said: "We were called around 6.30am on Saturday (July 13) following reports of an assault in Friargate, Preston.
"A man in his 20s had been punched by another man close to McDonald's.
"The offender then made off from the scene with two men and a woman.
"The victim was knocked unconscious suffering facial injuries. He later was taken to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment.
"The assault is being investigated as a hate crime and enquiries are on-going."
Sharing pictures of his injuries on social media, Ryan spoke of his shock at being targeted "just for being gay".
"I never thought in my life that I would get beaten up for being gay", said Ryan.
"What has this world actually come to? I want people to understand that being gay isn't a choice and I can’t help it.
"I’m sorry that you can’t deal with it but there is no need to knock someone out because of it!
"I seriously cannot believe that a homophobic attack like this still happens!"
But a defiant Ryan added: "Stand strong and love yourself, this isn’t going to stop me from being fabulous! Being gay is OK!"
The hate-filled attack happened just days after Pride events were held across the UK, including one of the biggest Pride marches in British history in London on July 6.
Preston Pride is scheduled to take place at Flag Market on September 28.
Anyone with information can contact police on 101 quoting log 0311 of July 13.