By Bob Vitale
The Union employee kicked and beaten by two men early Monday morning gave his ex-boyfriend a kiss goodbye moments before he was attacked by a man who had been watching from across the street.
As Chris Kratavil headed to his own place nearby, a friend told Outlook today, he passed the man who had been sitting on the front steps of a house near Indianola and 5th avenues in Columbus’s Weinland Park neighborhood. That’s when he was attacked.
Kratavil was punched from behind, knocked down and kicked repeatedly, said Sam Schisler, the marketing manager for Union and Axis Nightclub and a friend who accompanied the 32-year-old to OSU Medical Center later Monday. When a second man joined the attack and the two didn’t let up, the trained black-belt knew to protect his head and face, he told friends.
“That’s when he knew he was in trouble,” Schisler said.
Kratavil also began screaming. His friend came out, and the attackers fled.
Kratavil came home from the hospital at about 9:30p Monday, Schisler said, and he was resting today. He suffered cuts, bruises and fractures around his eyes.
He was at the hospital at the same time Monday and as David Conley, 26, another gay man who was attacked early Monday by a group of men along E Broad Street in Old Towne. Conley told Outlook on Monday that he was walking near E. Broad Street and Parsons Avenue and called 911 because he felt frightened by three men who were behind him.
The men used vulgar language that indicated an anti-gay bias, then they attacked him while he was still on the phone. Columbus Police arrived quickly and arrested the men, he said. Conley also was home resting Tuesday and said via Facebook that he was thinking of going for a walk “because these people aren’t stopping me!”
Violent crimes against three gay men in the last week — Christopher Ashcraft, 25, was attacked June 5 near the Southbend Tavern by men who asked for help with their car — are mobilizing the LGBT community in Columbus.
– Bars and clubs have been telling patrons and employees that they’ll walk with them to their cars to ensure their safety.
– Friends of Chris Kratavil are encouraging people to wear pink on Friday as a statement against hate crimes and a show of support for victims. Kratavil was wearing a pink shirt the night he was attacked.
– Axis will host a Pink Party on Friday from 9-11p. There will be music and performers and representatives from BRAVO and FCKH8. All donations at the door — $5 is suggested — will go to BRAVO, the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization.
Also, Wall Street Nightclub has scheduled a safety workshop on Monday, July 15 at 7p for employees of LGBT bars and clubs. BRAVO will conduct the session. Wall Street owner Scot Hafler said people will get tips for their own safety and the safety of customers.
BRAVO Executive Director Gloria McCauley said her organization will conduct similar safety workshops for any other group that asks.
She said she has been moved by the reaction of LGBT people and allies to the three recent attacks.
“The community seems to be rallying,” said “We’ve gotten so many calls: ‘What can we do to help? What can we do to help?’”
BRAVO encourages people to report incidents of harassment and intimidation, as well as anti-LGBT violence. BRAVO can be reached in Columbus at 614.294.7867, in Cleveland at 216.370.7361, in Cincinnati at 513.453.4001 and elsewhere in Ohio at 1.866.862.7286 (1.866.86BRAVO).