Adam Eli, who is gay and Jewish, tweeted a video of the confrontation early Monday. In the clip, viewable below, an unidentified man approaches Eli on a staircase of a Manhattan subway station and demands he remove his pink yarmulke.
“You’re desecrating the name of God,” the man, who has not been publicly identified, shouts at Eli as he exits the station. “Any man that lays with another man is an abomination. You’ll be murdered for it! Take the kippah off!”
As the clip progresses, the man grows increasingly agitated toward Eli, who also carried a pink purse and wore jeans emblazoned with a rainbow patch at the time of the incident.
“Stay in the closet,” the unidentified man demands after reciting parts of the Book of Leviticus. “Make sure your closet is in another closet ... this is not Judaism!”
As of Tuesday morning, the video had been viewed more than 740,000 times. It also caught the eye of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who shared Eli’s original tweet.
“There’s no place for hate in this city,” he wrote.
A writer and activist, Eli is a known figure in the global LGBTQ community as the founder of Voices 4, an advocacy group aimed at magnifying the voices of queer people around the world through social media. He initially founded the group in 2017 in response to the alleged persecution of gay men in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
The 28-year-old did not file a police report regarding the incident. In a series of Monday tweets, however, he said he felt compelled to share video of the confrontation as a reminder that the struggle for LGBTQ rights isn’t over.
In an interview with New York television station Pix 11, he said that he’d like the video to draw attention to to the ongoing epidemic of violence against transgender people, particularly women of color, across the U.S.
“I’m cisgender, white ... I have resources and that’s the type of violence that I’m getting,” he said. “If that’s the type of violence that one of the most privileged members of our community is getting, can you imagine what it’s like every day in the subway to be a trans person or a gender non-conforming person or a queer person of color?”