Wantagh Graduate John Mateer Attacked at Penn State Fraternity Party in October

Wantagh Graduate John Mateer Attacked at Penn State Fraternity Party in October

Sara Sneddon, Associate Editor

Wantagh alumnus John Mateer, a CUNY Queens College student, attended a fraternity party at the Sigma Nu house at Penn State University late in the evening of October 4. While walking home after fraternity brothers had removed him from the party when he revealed he was gay, homophobic slurs were hurled at him and he was followed by another ejected party goer.

“Why are you following me?” Mateer nervously said.

“You’re gay! I hate gays!” said the man, who then stormed Mateer.

Mateer was assaulted by multiple blows and a kick to the face. He lost consciousness and his assailant fled. Slowly regaining awareness, Mateer’s first thought was for his family and how devastating it would be if this attacker appeared again to finish him off. When he saw blood all over himself he shouted out for help; although many people passed, no one stopped to help him.

He returned to his friends and received aid. Mateer then posted a tweet of his bloody face with the caption, “Don’t let a frat guy know that you’re gay.” Immediately, he received an unbelievable amount of support. Viewed over 2 million times, this tweet and his story were re-tweeted by 15.4K accounts and received 18.3K favorites.

Mateer said he wasn’t expecting this much attention at all yet “…part of me is touched that so many people reached out to me with love and support.” After tweeting this, he was featured in over 30 news articles. Here at Wantagh, Mateer, a 2014 graduate, was a major player in the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender (LGBT) community starting a club as a freshman to support people struggling with their identity.

In October, State College police charged Matthew Chandlee, an 18-year-old Penn State Altoona University student, with simple assault and harassment charges.

This young man, filled with rage and hate for someone he didn’t know, is not being charged with a hate crime for his alleged attack on Mateer. Even though the investigation confirmed the attack was based on derogatory comments and sexual prejudice, which is the definition of a hate crime, this assault was not considered one.

“New York City is different than Pennsylvania.” said Mateer. “We take our open minds for granted. The whole country isn’t quite there yet.”

Places like New York City differ greatly from other areas of the country and world. Still growing, the LGBT community is established and accepted. In perspective, there is an overwhelming amount of problems relating to prejudice and injustice against people belonging and affiliated with this community. Approximately 21% of hate crimes are based on sexual orientation and 61% of these crimes are targeted towards gay men. Considering attacks like the one on John Mateer are not considered hate crimes under certain jurisdiction, it is likely these statistics are severely deflated.

“What needs to change is the law,” Mateer said. “Beyond universities, Pennsylvania state law still does not consider it a hate crime to beat someone for being gay. That is unacceptable in 2015.”

John Mateer, throughout this experience, still fights for LGBT rights. His attack has not deterred him from working hard to create change and help those in the LGBT community gain equality. Seeing this strength in anyone facing any type of prejudice is inspiring.

Mateer has faced many obstacles in his life. Some of the hurdles he’s overcome were featured on the TV show “Long Island Medium” two years ago like the tragic deaths of his mother to breast cancer and his father to colon cancer.

“I just hope that you all at WHS read this and realize that no matter how much hate that remains in this world, you are beautiful for being you,” Mateer said. “Being a member of the LGBT community is something to be celebrated. The only effective way to “hit back” the hateful people is to be proud and remain proud.”