NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A man on his way to work became the victim of an apparent hate crime, and it's happening more than you might think.
Bias attacks in the city are on the rise this year.
Police sources say the 29-year-old openly gay victim got on the northbound C train at the Franklin Avenue station in Bed-Stuy headed for work in Manhattan just before 9 a.m. Thursday.
When the train neared Hoyt Street, an angry stranger started shouting anti-gay slurs and cursing at him, then spit in the victim's face and punched him several times, solely because of his sexual orientation, CBS2's Brian Conybeare reported.
"I'm a part of the LGBT community too, so that's like very hurtful, that's very disturbing to hear," Bed-Stuy resident Destiny Love said.
About to get on the same train Saturday night, writer Destiny Love said she can't believe in 2017 some people still harbor such hate.
"Why does it bother you so much? Like you know, but it's very unfortunate," she said.
Police are trying to determine if hate was in fact the motive in the latest attack.
This year, there's been a growing number of bias crimes across the city.
According to the NYPD, there have been 128 hate crimes so far in 2017, more than double the 62 from last year. They've investigated 17 anti-gay hate crimes, up from 15 last year.
"We've been seeing a lot of increased incidents of violence and attacks like that," Emma Shakarshy said.
She works with homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer teens. She said she's not surprised by what happened on the train.
"Men can often feel really threatened by the presence of men who are not masculine, because it threatens their own masculinity," she said.
Police are still searching for the suspect. The victim continued on the train into Manhattan and is expected to be OK.
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