A gay Oklahoma City man is recovering from second-degree burns that were caused when his car was firebombed last week -- and the attack may be considered a hate crime because a homophobic slur was also painted on the vehicle.
Jon Ferguson told KWTV that when his car alarm woke him up early on Saturday morning, he walked outside to find at least two people vandalizing his Camaro. According to Ferguson, one of the vandals ran off and the other threw something that caused the car to explode into flames.
"The car just blew up, then he [the other masked man] took off too," he told The Gayly. "In the instant I smelled gas, but I didn’t know if it was the flames that hit me or what it was."
Ferguson ran back into his house and tried to strip his melted shirt from his body while dousing himself with water in the shower. He called 911 and was later transported by ambulance to Baptist Hospital where he was treated for first- and second-degree burns on his face, arms and torso.
While still in the emergency room, authorities told him that a homophobic slur had been spray-painted on his car.
"My friends were there with me and my mother and father had shown up," Ferguson recalled. "Two fire inspectors, they came in to talk to me. One Fire Inspector asked me if there was any graffiti on my car [before the incident]. One fire inspector told me then the word 'fag' had been written on the back of it."
"Nobody has a right to judge me," he insisted. "Nobody is justified to judge somebody for who they lay in bed with. It’s almost not worth being proud of who you are and trying to show you’re gay because stuff like this really does happen. I’ve always seen it on the news that kids are dying and stuff because they’re being bullied and you understand why kids don’t come out of the closet."
“I wasn’t flaunting it or anything. I’m trying to be me, but it’s almost not worth it. It’s like I need to fake being happy with a female just to where the world accepts me and I don’t want to do that."
Oklahoma City Fire Department Chief Homer Jones told KWTV that the case was considered an act of arson and the investigation would continue if it was determined to be a hate crime. Jones said that the department had no suspects at the time.
In a statement, Cimarron Alliance Executive Director Scott J. Hamilton said that the attack was a reminder that the LGBT community was still not fully accepted in Oklahoma City.
"When anyone is victimized in this way, it is a tragedy," Hamilton explained. "When it is compounded by hate based only on sexual orientation, it victimizes an entire community."
"Hate is not an Oklahoma value and those responsible for this crime must be brought to justice."
Watch this video from KWTV, broadcast July 23, 2012.
(h/t: Joe My God)