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Gay Radio Hosts Turn Hate Into Art


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."

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  1. The ironic thing is that if people were complaining about the tug of war over the microphone (which is extremely phallic and sexual), from what I can see of the left-behind paint ball shots, it just make it seem more so; I now need a cigarette.

    Posted by: woodroad34d | Dec 23, 2012 12:44:39 PM

  2. I'm not surprised at all this happened in the Fairfax district. I know that district is traditionally religious, a lot of Orthodox Jews and other religious folk, and mostly white bread, white collar types. I can just see them acting snobby and ridiculously homophobic. But this is the perfect way to turn a bad situation into an empowering one.

    I love the strength and confidence my LGBT brothers and sisters are showing today. No longer are we going to be intimidated or shamed into living our lives anything but honestly.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 23, 2012 2:20:08 PM

  3. It's interesting that the first thing to come to the artist's mind on the concept of "hate" is religion, when the actual hate was due to perceived orientation.

    But it's a natural association, because in most religions, if you don't believe, you are destined for their particular version of hell. They thrive on hatred and fear.

    And as usual, the plan to "include lots of religious symbols so as not to leave anyone out" did exactly that, leaving out the large segment of the global population that are unaffiliated and/or do not believe in the supernatural, and are subject to shunning, imprisonment, or even death as a result.

    Posted by: Randy | Dec 23, 2012 2:53:28 PM

  4. I"m amazed that, in this day and age, someone in Los Angeles would be motivated by hatred of gay people to the point of defacing a billboard. Just goes to show that homophobia exists in LA.

    They need to get some CCTV footage of the area.

    Posted by: steven lucas | Dec 23, 2012 3:46:36 PM

  5. Steven, parts of LA are definitely not gay friendly. There are some very rough areas and then there are some areas like Fairfax where people can be very haughty. LA isn't as gay accepting as San Francisco, Berkeley or San Jose. It's not the Bay Area. It's more like NYC, where attitudes towards gay people can change drastically in one district compared to another. LA voted right around 50/50 on Prop 8 in 2008 so that should be a sign, although things have most likely gotten better since then.

    Randy, I would agree with you but I think that the artist Mr. Ochoa created these images with religious undertones intentionally. Basically saying "Jesus wouldn't deface this advertisement because it's two gay men. Jesus is about love, not hate on the basis of orientation." So in that sense, it's smart. Again, this area is really white-bread and religious. Jaime Ochoa I'm sure knows that, and ran with it.

    Posted by: Francis | Dec 23, 2012 5:00:32 PM

  6. I'm sure he loves the attention this is giving him, since this "major hate crime" is barely a misdemeanor. Considering the temporary nature of posters in general, I doubt anyone is going to be charged.

    Posted by: anon | Dec 23, 2012 6:35:42 PM

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