Just hours after a LGBT march to end the spike in hate crimes in the city, there were two more violent attacks – one in the East Village, one in SoHo.
“Even though there have been incidents, there’s just so many hundreds of people on the street. You don’t expect this to happen. Sometimes certain people just snap, maybe its marriage equality, something on people’s minds, the anger that comes out when they drink,” said Dan Contarino, 45, of Manhattan, who believes that is how he became a victim of the latest anti-gay hate crime in New York City.
He says a man who he had seen before in the area where he lives, started yelling at him on the street near Avenue D in the East Village Monday night.
“Are you a f****t, things like that. Certain things I don’t usually like to publicly say. It just happened so quick, I’m still absorbing the shock,” he told PIX 11 News.
He says the man beat him up so badly, he blacked out.
Police are now looking for the suspect they identified as 39-year-old Roman Gronell who stays at the Bowery Mission.
Monday night’s attacks on Dan, and another gay couple who suffered minor injuries in an attack in SOHO, brings the number of violent anti-gay hate crimes in just the past few weeks to 7.
The NYPD says this kind of crime is up more than 70% this year.
“Maybe that could be happening in our society because there’s so much change going on, like with gay marriage, and creating a reaction for other people,” said Contarino, adding, “I’m humbled I’ve had my life spared but I’m saddened for those who lost their lives.”
Lives lost, like Mark Carson, the man who police say was shot in the face point blank over the weekend only because he was gay. In a press conference addressing the alarming rise in anti-gay hate crimes, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said even now these crimes tend to be grossly under-reported.
Contarino is not surprised. “There’s fear and there’s still hundreds of people who don’t want to be outed. It could be jeopardizing their job or something.”
In fact, he almost did not report what happened to him. Then, he realized pressing charges and sharing his story could be a way of fighting back.
“Maybe this can help spearhead some sort of revolutionary awakening.”
With his attacker still out there, Contarino says he is fearful it could happen again. Barely 24 hours after the attack, this strong survivor still has a sense of humor about the bruises it left behind.
“At least I’ve got some stylish glasses and at least I can try to look fabulous while I’m on the streets of New York until it heals up,” said Contarino as he put his sunglasses back on his face.