Edmonton police are investigating a possible hate crime after a University of Alberta student was attacked near the main campus earlier this week.

Chevi Rabbit says the attack happened on Thursday when he was walking alone near the University.

Rabbit says three men approached him from a car, shouting homophobic slurs, as they had done to him two days earlier.

This time, however, Rabbit says the men didn’t just drive off.

Rabbit alleges one of the men got out of the car and grabbed him from behind, put him in a headlock and threw him to the ground.

“It happened really fast,” Rabbit said.

“I just laid on the ground and was quite stunned, like ‘did this really just happen?’”

Rabbit says the men stole his iPhone and drove off as witnesses called police.

He says the incident left him feeling sad and embarrassed.

“I’ve always worn makeup and it’s something I’ve always done. I’m a makeup artist, I do it by trade. No one’s ever really had a problem with it. It’s part of what I do, I was really sad and more embarrassed,” Rabbit said.

“I couldn’t believe this had happened to me.”

Police say an attack like the one Rabbit alleges hurts more than just the immediate victim.

“Hate crimes don’t just target an individual but they strike fear into an entire community. That is why we have laws against hate crimes and enhanced provisions against those who commit them,” said Kristopher Wells with the Edmonton Police Service’s Sexual Minorities Liaison Committee.

“What it demonstrates unfortunately is that we still have a lot of work to do. While we may have legislated equality for gays and lesbians in this country, we still don’t have social equality by any means. It’s a sorry statement that this is still happening in the 21st century.”

Rabbit says he has been openly gay since he was a child.

The incident has left him bruised and feeling angry and embarrassed, but he says he's not going to let the attack change him.

“At first I was thinking I would be a little apprehensive, maybe wear less makeup and be less visibly gay, but then I was like ‘no.’ This is who I am, this is what I do, I’ve always been this way, I’m not going to change.”

Rabbit says since news of what happened became public, he’s been receiving a number of supportive messages from strangers.

With files from Sean Amato