Vandals used chemicals to burn “fag” into the front yard of a gay couple in Arcanum, Ohio, last week.
The couple, Bradley O’Dell and Mike Stone, responded by launching a fundraiser for a local nonprofit, the Have A Gay Day community center in nearby Moraine, which has brought in more than $4,000.
Stone noticed the graffiti on May 22, when he went outside to give O’Dell something he had left inside.
“I never in a million years thought I would see that in my front yard,” Stone told WHIO-TV. “I’m angry, I don’t understand. But, as a gay man, I feel like I’ve gone through this before. It’s almost like it comes with the territory.”
In a Facebook post, Stone suggested the vandalism may have stemmed from a legal dispute the couple is having with the builder of their home, and some of the company’s employees.
“Am I pissed? Livid like you’ve probably never seen me. Did I go right ahead and mow that shit down and go about my day? After filing a police report and finding out many of our neighbors have security cameras that cover our block, you flippin bet I did,” Stone wrote. “This act of barbarity and hate will not be given the power to define us. This person’s small minded, ignorance will not be allowed to bring negativity into our lives. We stand strong together, with the love and support of our family, friends, and community with pride and compassion. We won’t be taken down by something as little as this. Love wins. Love will always win.”
O’Dell grew up in Arcanum — 30 miles northwest of Dayton — and said he moved back there because he knows “this community as a whole is great.” He said his message to the vandals would be, ““Do better, be better.”
“Regardless of how much hate there was in this one single act, something good is going to come out of it and love always wins in the end,” O’Dell told WHIO-TV. “We can turn this terrible act of hate into something good for a local organization. If you’re struggling with who you are, regardless of how you identify yourself, there are people out there that will support you. And there are people there to help you through those tough times, you don’t have to do it alone.”
Police say the vandalism remains under investigation, and no charges have been filed. Ohio’s hate-crimes laws does not include sexual orientation.