"I think the hardest thing is grappling with why it had to happen at all," Shortell said.
He speaks through temporary braces and bands that hold his teeth in place.
His face is still healing from the night of February 22.
He was walking home walking home from the train at 11:30 p.m. down a desolate side of Bedford Street in Williamsburg when six teenagers passed him.
"About five seconds later, I heard them say 'Is that a guy or a girl?' calling into question my sexuality," Shortell recalled.
He thought the comment was the end of it. It was only the beginning.
"And before I could even process that thought, I was attacked, and I don't recall how the attack went," Shortell said.
It went brutally, and viciously. A Good Samaritan helped him to safety. An ambulance got him to Woodhull hospital, where he spent ten hours in surgery.
"They fractured my jaw in two places front to back, my nose fractured in four places, my eye sockets were fractured," Shortell said.
Many friends, including Jason Baker, were there when he woke.
"It was really hard, at the same time I knew it could only get better, and that's exactly what's happened," Baker said.
Shortell and friends have become proactive, creating websites like 'Shortell's Response', Facebook pages and fundraisers to raise money for his $100,000 medical bill and to raise awareness against hate and violence.
"Everybody, regardless of sex I'd, gender, race, creed, should be able to walk home at night and not fear being attacked," friend Libby Eldelson said.
Police are still investigating the attack on Shortell. So far, no one's been arrested.
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