On October 6, Ben Stoviak and his boyfriend Aaron were leaving Remedy Bar in Lawrenceville, PA, when three men yelled homophobic insults to them and then started attacking the couple.
“Last night, a group of men attacked me and my boyfriend on Butler Street in Lawrenceville. After yelling, from across the street, ‘Faggot!’ at us, I replied, ‘yes, we’re faggots!’” Stoviak wrote on his Facebook page.
After this exchange, the men ran over and started attacking the couple. “[They] began hitting, kicking, and stomping me. The mark on my right cheek is a bootprint. Aaron threw himself on top of me to discourage them from continuing the assault, but they began kicking him in the head, as well,” explained Stoviak.
A group of people witnessed the attack from across the street and called the police to report the incident.
After the police were notified, the three suspects, all white men, jumped into their vehicle and drove off. Two women who witnessed the event were able to write down the license plate number of the attacker’s black Hyundai.
Once authorities arrived Stoviak was reported to be bloodied and bruised, and had a visible boot print across his face.
Stoviak wrote on his Facebook page that three men have been arrested since the attack. A report by Queerty indicated that LGBT organizations have contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as well as the District Attorney’s office and are pressing for this attack to be classified as a hate crime.
“Whether they knew that I was gay, or we were gay or just perceived us to be gay, the reason for the attack was for our perceived sexuality. And for no other reason,” Stoviak said.
According to Stoviak’s LinkedIn page, he lives in Pittsburgh and is a substitute teacher at the Shady Side Academy as well as the creator of a monthly poetry forum called Speak Easy / Talk Dirty that showcases local artists and is meant to bolster the creative community of the Pittsburgh area.
Over 600 people commented on Stoviak’s Facebook post sharing their concern over the entire ordeal.
“I am so incredibly sorry that you and your boyfriend are experiencing such a horrific and ugly example of society. I cannot even imagine the pain, anger, frustration and a whole host of other emotions you both must be experiencing,” one commenter said.
Stoviak ended his Facebook post by stating that he acknowledges that not everyone is in support of his homosexuality, however he requested that they respect it.
“I don’t ask you to cheer on my romantic and sexual lives. I do, however, expect people not to act violently against one another because they do not share tastes and preferences.”