Beating of straight Marine who defended gay friends to be investigated as a hate crime

Omaha police are investigating the Saturday beating of a straight Marine as a hate crime.

Ryan Langenegger, the man in question, was beaten defending his friends, Joshua Foo and Jacob Gellinger, at a late night eatery. The three had attended a popular drag show earlier, and Gellinger was wearing a dress.

According to Langenegger, three men in the PepperJax Grill were staring at Gellinger, so he and his friends decided to leave. The men followed Langenegger, Gellinger and Foo into the parking lot, and one of them kept saying "Should I? Should I?"

Gellinger said to the man, "I know I'm a boy in a dress," to which the man responded, "Yeah, and you're [expletive] disgusting."

Langenegger told the man he didn't want any trouble, at which point the man began to beat him, resulting in a gash on his forehead, a bruised eye socket and two chipped teeth.

"Why? Why would you do this?" Langenegger asked, as the men walked away. Foo called 911 and a police report was taken.

The gay community considers Langenegger's actions heroic, and is hosting a "Drag Out Hate!" rally in his honor on Saturday.

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

Mayor Jean Stothert said in a statement that she's been assured the Omaha Police Department is treating the incident with the seriousness it deserves.

In a statement, she said "[h]ate crimes in our community will not be tolerated and should be reported and investigated."

Watch WOWT's report below.