from WCPO-TV

By Bob Vitale

Three gay men have been attacked in Columbus over the last four days, and BRAVO officials are warning people to be extra cautious in a month that celebrates pride and openness.

On Thursday, a visitor from out of town who was smoking outside the Southbend Tavern in Merion Village was punched and kicked until he was unconscious by at least two men who had asked him for help starting their car.

Late Sunday, an employee walking home from Union was beaten near Summit Street in Italian Village. A gay man also was attacked and robbed early Monday near E Broad Street and Parsons Avenue in Olde Towne; he posted a photo of his bloodied head, along with a warning: “It sounds like hate crimes are back, boys and girls.”

“There are creeps out there, and they don’t like us,” said Gloria McCauley, executive director of BRAVO, the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization.

Sgt. Richard Weiner, a spokesman for Columbus Police, said Southbend patrons reported the incident there late last week. Christopher Ashcraft told officers he was approached by several men who asked for a jump-start.

Ashcraft, who was visiting Columbus from Crescent Springs, Ky., told a Cincinnati TV station that he got a friend’s keys and went to help the men but was attacked.

“Once I was on the ground, they just kicked me in the face a couple times until I was unconscious. It was my guess an hour to an hour-and-a-half later before I woke up and, from what I’m told, crawled back to the bar where I was found laying behind the bar.”

Although Ashcraft told Cincinnati’s WCPO-TV that he’s certain his attack was a hate crime, Weiner said the victim didn’t share that thought with Columbus police and didn’t indicate that the attackers used anti-gay language. The men did steal his wallet.

McCauley said BRAVO classifies some incidents as “bias crimes.” Areas around LGBT bars are targeted, she said, because of old stereotypes that LGBT people are easy prey, that they won’t fight back, that they’ll be too frightened to call police.

Chris Kratavil, the Union employee who was attacked on his way home from work, was still being treated at the hospital late Monday afternoon but was expected to be released soon, said Robert Younkman, a friend who manages Axis Nightclub.

He was punched from behind and then beaten and kicked, Younkman said.

“He has a black belt,” Younkman said. “If it had been a fair fight, it would have been a little more interesting. They would have picked the wrong little gay boy to pick on.”

Kratavil has spoken both to Columbus Police and BRAVO, Younkman said. He didn’t tell his friend whether his attackers said anything anti-gay, but Younkman said they didn’t rob him.

Friends posted photos of Kratavil, bloodied and bruised, on Facebook, and dozens have left messages of love and support.

David Conley, the victim of the third attack, said he called 911 as a group of men approached him from behind, and he was on the phone with the dispatcher as they hit him with a 2-by-4. Police arrived quickly and arrested three men. Conley said the men made vulgar comments as they approached that indicated an anti-gay bias.

In another incident, WSYX-TV reported that Exile, a gay bar at 893 N 4th St in Italian Village, was broken into just after employees left late Wednesday. A single burglar stole $9,000 from an ATM, cash registers and lockers.

The physical attacks come as LGBT people in Columbus are in the midst of a month of social, cultural and educational events — as well as special bar nights — to celebrate and observe Pride.

BRAVO’s McCauley said our happy time, though, gets anti-gay people fired up, too. Such incidents aren’t unexpected, she said.

“It’s not all that unusual. It’s June,” McCauley said. “We’re so out and proud in June, and people are out there who don’t like it.”

She gave the following safety tips:

— Carry a whistle. It’ll get attention quick and perhaps scare off would-be attackers.

— Don’t walk alone, and hit the bars with a “designated walker.” We make a smart choice not to drive for a night out, she said, but we’re also less aware of our surroundings when we walk around, as McCauley put it, “happy.” Someone in your group should stay sober.

— Be cautious, even inside the bars. “Don’t take for granted that just because they’re in a gay club that their motives are good,” she said.


Twitter: @Bob_Vitale



  1. So, I find I have one major disagreement with this article, and it’s the very last line. “– Be cautious, even inside the bars. ‘Don’t take for granted that just because they’re in a gay club that their motives are good,’ she said.”

    I cry Bullshit! I’m thinking, if you come into my bar and start shit with *anyone else* in my bar, I’m bashing you upside the head with a beer bottle. Be cautious inside my own bar? Fuck that. Bikers aren’t cautious against intruders in their bars, sports fanatics aren’t cautious about intruders in their bars, why in 7 hells should gay people be trained to be cautious in OUR bars?!? You come into MY bar and start shit with any of MY people, expect my drink upside the back of your fool ass head.

    • If you remember the story of Mathew Shepard you wouldn’t be so quick to argue. Have you ever heard the term “wolf in sheep’s clothing”? They can also lure gay men or women out of a place of safety under false pretenses like they did with Mathew.

  2. To Heather: Unfortunately Matthew Shepherd (one famous example) thought he was leaving a bar with two guys of the “same persuasion”. It got him murderously beaten & left to die of exposure on a remote Wyoming fence. There are those who are so consumed with hatred that they think nothing of going in a gay bar to lure a victim. I remember two instances when on Pride Saturday a WORSHIP service was interrupted by prejudice in the guise of ‘religiosity’. During one worship service at First Congregational next to the art gallery, some guy holding his trusty Bible high aloft for all of us ‘heathens’ to see shouted, “You are all going to hell! Turn and repent from your sinful ways or you will burn in the fires of hell for an eternity…..” and then proceeded to walk out. At a worship service at the gazebo in Goodale Park, the entire area was surrounded by huge hate sign-carrying Right-wing zealots….the formed around, then slowly started creeping toward the center…one of my sisters in Christ, Nancy, looked around, stood up and without saying a word walked to the outside of the congregation right in front of them, turned her back on them and held out her arms, facing the worship center in silence. I and many others joined her and encircled the entire worship area. I believe that our silent action of Loving Solidarity of Standing against HATRED & PREJUDICE spoke more volumes of Truth than did all of their signs combined & multiplied a thousand times. I personally cannot understand how anyone can claim to be TRULY following Jesus The Christ, (who taught, preached & lived LOVE; spoke to religious power about justice & inclusion while standing up for & joining the marginalized, rejected & those labeled “sinners” by the religious elite) and be so filled with rage & vitriol to do such unspeakable violence to ANY human being. Nonetheless, they are out there. They are inflamed by a sinister (they say divine) call to proclaim the edicts of the law against what they determine is a wave of vulgarity & perversion (without ever even knowing someone who is GLBT) and will do anything to make their voice, hatred & vitriol heard & known & felt in the bodies & hearts of those other brothers & sisters of the One Creators Hand…how this behavior is justified as being “Christ-like” is the most asinine rationalization I can possibly imagine. If people have the gall to interrupt a religious worship service with their ‘agenda’, I don’t think they’d think twice about going in a bar….as sad as that sounds. Pride month is like a tonic to those hating GLBT folk. Stick with your friends, be aware of your surroundings, and if God forbid you are attacked, DON’T TAKE IT! REPORT IT!! BRAVO – 1-866-862-7286. Peace. Shalom. Namaste and Much Love in THE REAL Jesus The Christ.