Craig Olsen and Robbie Laughlin, gay co-hosts of "The Craig and Robbie Hour" on Global Voice Broadcasting, don't have definitive proof that the second defacement of their billboard above LA's Beverly Boulevard was meant to be homophobic, but they're pretty sure it was. The sign had previously been covered with purple paint and replaced, and a search of the area saw no other examples of the second vandal's handiwork: white paintball smears.
Olsen's convinced this was an act of hate, especially after hearing that some people in the neighborhood had called the billboard, showing him and Laughlin fighting over a microphone, "too gay."
"Somebody had to take a gun, and I was a target. This felt more violent," Olsen told the Los Angeles Times. "I felt like somebody had smacked me across the face and said, 'Get out.' But I wasn't going to roll over.'
Rather than replacing the billboard again, Olsen and Laughlin would use the vandalism to spread "a message of hope."
[Olsen] hired artist Jaime Ochoa to incorporate the defacement into an artwork he calls a "message of hope."
The result is an unusual combination of advertisement and art rising over the westbound lanes of Los Angeles' Beverly Boulevard. Ochoa used the drips of white paint to create black-and-white religious symbols, a dove and a child holding a sign that reads, "PEACE."
Olsen wanted Ochoa to find an artistic way to depict diversity without covering up the old image entirely. He wanted whoever vandalized the billboard to see some paint spots left behind as reminders.
As a Latino artist, Ochoa said he is part of two groups that are often discriminated against, so he was enthusiastic about the project. The Silver Lake resident said he used the paint drippings as a canvas and tried to layer them into his images. He chose mostly black and white paint for a design he called "bold and simple" and tried to include lots of religious symbols so as "not to leave anyone out."
Then he painted a globe on top of the photo of the two hosts and made it appear as though they were hugging the world instead of wrestling for the microphone.
Speaking with FishbowlLA last month, Ochoa said, "I wanted to turn this [gay] hate crime into a positive message for the community." Olsen, meanwhile, told the Times, "It's almost like my holiday card to my community."
At least four people emailed over the course of the evening to pass along Frank Bruni's latest New York Times column, "A Father's Journey on Gay Marriage."
I thought, "Well, this better be good..." It was better than good; it was great.
After years of skirting the issue of his sexuality with his father, a father who stayed silent after Bruni's late mother told him then-younger Frank's secret, Bruni recently had lunch with his dad to find out how he came to accept him.
Here is an excerpt from a piece worth reading twice. The scene picks up with Bruni's father explaining why, even after knowing the truth, he said nothing:
"It was just so unusual to me," he recalled, groping for the right word.
He’d heard it said that gay people were somehow stunted, maybe even ill. But that made no sense to him, because he was confident that I was neither of those things.
He’d heard it said that peculiar upbringings turned children gay. “I thought about it a lot,” he said, “and I came to the conclusion that it had to be in your genes, in you, because I couldn’t think how the environment for you was any different than it was for your two brothers.”
He said he worried that I was in for a more difficult, less complete life than they and my sister were. I asked him why he’d never broached that with me. He said that it would have been an insult — that I was obviously smart enough to have assessed the terrain and figured out for myself how I was going to navigate it.
It's a touching and telling people, particularly the elder Bruni's hypothesis on why some American remain hesitant to accept gay people. "I’m convinced that people who don’t accept gays just don’t really know any of them." Smart man.