Ohio

Seeing red over recent anti-gay attacks, Columbus wears pink

Outlook Columbus
Representatives of custom apparel clothier Skreened distribute pink shirts on Friday outside the offices of Outlook Columbus. BOB VITALE | Outlook Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A community that has been seeing red over recent attacks against gay men turned pink on Friday.

People in Columbus are wearing pink as a statement against anti-LGBT hate and violence and as a show of support for Christopher Ashcraft, David Conley and Christopher Kratavil, victims of hate crimes in three Columbus neighborhoods during a recent four-day span. In a city more accustomed to wearing the scarlet and gray of its beloved Ohio State Buckeyes, pink-wearing residents today are led by Mayor Michael B. Coleman, who has donned a pink tie.

Outlook Columbus
Representatives of custom apparel clothier Skreened distribute pink shirts on Friday outside the offices of Outlook Columbus.

“Love is outshining hate in Columbus,” organizer Nina West, a popular local drag performer, tweeted last night about the effort.

(You can see a photo album of Columbus residents sporting pink at the Outlook Columbus page on Facebook.)

Storefronts and restaurant dishes in the city also are pink today. Whit’s Frozen Custard in the gay-friendly Short North has pink cotton candy as its daily flavor; Grass Skirt Tiki Room, a Downtown restaurant, is serving pink steamed rice.

On Facebook, statements of support and pledges to wear pink have come in from as close to home as the Ohio cities of Athens and Toledo and as far away as Brazil and South Korea.

Why pink? That’s the color Chris Kratavil was wearing when he was jumped, dragged, punched and kicked by a man who watched from across the street as he walked a friend home and kissed him goodnight.

A number of businesses are offering discounts to patrons in pink and pledging donations to BRAVO, the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, which works across Ohio to address issues of violence and intimidation aimed at LGBT people. They’re offering discounts to customers in pink, and some are donating all or part of their sales to the anti-violence group.

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Pursuit, a men’s clothing store that does online sales, is donating all of the proceeds from today’s sales of pink ties and bowties to BRAVO. Skreened, a local shirt-printing business, is giving away 500 pink shirts with the quote from the movie, “Mean Girls”: “On Fridays, We Wear Pink.”

According to Wholly Craft, one of the many participating businesses: “A pink army will not be defeated!”

Tonight, West will host a Pink Party at the Short North’s Axis Nightclub to raise more money for BRAVO.

Coleman vowed Wednesday that Columbus Police would all of the attackers. Police have arrested one man in connection with the attack against Conley.

“I want you to know: We’re on this,” Coleman told more than 130 people at Outlook’s monthly Network Columbus gathering. “We’re going to get those who committed these crimes. We’re going to put them in jail.”
The mayor’s reaction to attacks in Merion Village, Olde Towne and Weinland Park mirrored that of many people in Columbus who are much more used to touting the city’s LGBT-friendly reputation than hearing about hate crimes.

“That’s not the city of Columbus,” he said.

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