EPITHETS HURLED by a surly crowd. A flurry of blows rained down on two men, singled out because they love someone of the same sex.
It sounds like a scene from 30 years ago in some backwater town.
But it happened Thursday, police say, when two men were walking two blocks east of Rittenhouse Square to grab some late-night pizza.
"I want to find the people who did this," one of the men - whose identities the Daily News is withholding at their request - said last night at his home in South Philly.
"We’re devastated; nothing like this has ever happened to us before," he said. "This is terrible, not just for us, but for everyone. No one deserves to get beat up like this."
According to police, the men were assaulted on Chancellor Street near 16th just before 11 p.m. They were walking to Mama Angelina’s, a pizza joint on Locust Street near 13th, to get some slices after sharing ice cream with one of their mothers.
Eventually, the couple, who have been together for six years, crossed paths with about a dozen twentysomethings dressed for a night on the town, according to the victims.
Someone in the group brushed shoulders with one of the men. Without provocation, another group member asked him: “Who is that, you’re f—-ing boyfriend?”
"Yes, he is my boyfriend," the victim replied.
Then all hell broke loose.
The group of men and women descended on the duo, savagely pummeling them in the face and chest. At one point, one of the victims watched as his boyfriend was slammed into the ground, his head hitting the sidewalk with a sickening thud.
All the while, the attackers spat homophobic taunts.
"They kept screaming, ‘Faggots, faggots!’ " one of the victims said. "I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that’s a friggin’ hate crime."
The men don’t know how long the attack lasted. It’s still a blur, they said.
When police arrived, the crowd scattered, taking a backpack that one of the victims had dropped. Inside were the man’s cellphone and wallet, police said.
Cops took the men to Hahnemann University Hospital. They later told the victims that so much blood had been spilled on the sidewalk that they initially thought someone had been shot.
"This is downtown Philly," one of the men said. "This shouldn’t happen here.
"When they jumped us, I kept screaming, ‘This is 2014, you can’t do this!’ "
That man walked away with bruises to his face and a swollen left eye. His partner wasn’t so lucky: The attackers fractured several bones in his face, including his right orbital bone.
Doctors wired his shattered jaw shut, and told him yesterday, as he was being released from Hahnemann, that it will stay that way for eight weeks.
But even as the men nurse their broken bodies, their love of Philly remains intact.
"This isn’t about the city, it’s about the people here that don’t know how to treat others," the man said through his wired jaw.
"This doesn’t change the way we live our lives."
As of last night, police had made no arrests, but detectives told the victims that they had clear surveillance footage of the people who beat them.
"Honestly, we just want these people brought to justice," one of the men said. "This isn’t fair."
UPDATE: this picture is floating around on twitter. the guy in the back, standing up and wearing the vest and polo shirt is one of the suspects.