A young couple are recovering from severe burns after police say a man threw burning water on them -- because they are gay.
The victims told WSB-TV that they were sound asleep, resting after a long day at work, when they were attacked.
"The pain doesn't let you sleep. It's just, like, it's excruciating, 24 hours a day, and it doesn't go anywhere," Marquez Tolbert said. “It doesn't dial down, anything. It's just there."
Tolbert believes that the second- and third-degree burns along his neck, back and arms are scars of hate.
"Why else would you pour boiling hot water on somebody?" Tolbert asked.
The 21-year-old and his boyfriend, Anthony Gooden, were severely burned last month when the men say Martin Blackwell, Gooden's mother's boyfriend, walked in on them sleeping in Gooden's Atlanta apartment and poured scalding water all over them.
"I can barely think straight because the burning, the stinging, is everywhere," Tolbert said.
Tolbert spent 10 days at the hospital undergoing surgery that took skin from his thigh to replace skin on his back.
Gooden got out of the hospital on Friday.
Blackwell, 48, remains in the Fulton County Jail, charged with two counts of aggravated battery.
"Martin pulled me up and said, 'Get out of my house with all that gay,'" Tolbert said. "I couldn't stop screaming."
Even though he said he wouldn't put up with the couple in his house, Blackwell did not live in that apartment. It belonged to Gooden and his mother, but Blackwell was frequently visiting.
According to a police report, Blackwell said he was disgusted by the men's relationship, telling police, "They'll be all right. It was just a little hot water on them."
"Like, where was your head at? Why would you do this?" Tolbert asked.
An Atlanta Police Department LGBT liaison assisted in the case to make sure Blackwell did not make bail, police said.
Although there is no state hate crime statute in Georgia, the liaison said federal hate crime charges are a possibility in the case, and an upcoming hearing will address that.
Gooden's cousin, Diyawn Jackson, has set up a GoFundMe page for Gooden's medical funds. It has raised over $3,000.
Vickie Gray, a family friend of Tolbert, set up a GoFundMe page for his recovery. Over $24,000 has been raised for him.