A straight man in Nebraska who protected his gay friends from being attacked says he would do it again despite suffering a bloody face.

Ryan Langenegger was eating late at a restaurant in Omaha with friends Josh Foo and Jacob Gellinger at the weekend when three men began hurling abuse.

“We were eating and there was three guys watching us and one of them stepped up and was a foot or two away from my friend (Mr Gellinger) and he just kept saying should I should I?” Mr Langenegger explained to local TV station WOWT 6 News.

Mr Gellinger, who was in drag, replied to the men: “I know I’m a boy in a dress.”

In response, Mr Gellinger was told, “Yeah, you’re disgusting”, followed by further anti-gay slurs.

The three friends decided to leave the restaurant, but according to Mr Langenegger, the men followed them outside and eventually cut them off, preventing them from getting to their car and leaving.

“I stepped in and said, ‘Hey we aren’t looking for any trouble,’ and as I’m talking to him one of his friends from the corner of my eye comes up and hits me in the face. I stand up and he also swings at my other friend and misses and I just look at him and say, ‘Why?’ There’s no reason for this.”

Mr Langenegger suffered bruising on the face, two chipped teeth, and a giant gash on his forehead. He says taking the punch was worth it in order to protect his friends.

“I see this happen all the time with my friends and it’s really sickening. It’s 2013, we live in Omaha, a lot of people don’t realise that this stuff is going on and it’s just not right, and I’m just not going to stand by and watch my friends and pretty much family get degraded it’s just not right”.

Expressing gratitude to his friend, Josh Foo said the actions “meant so much to me,” Jacob Gellinger added, “He got in the way otherwise it would have been us.”

The friends intend to press charges against the attackers.

Nebraska’s hate crimes law covers hate crimes based on sexual orientation but not those based on gender identity.

No provision of Nebraska law explicitly addresses discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation or gender identity

Equal marriage remains illegal in the state.