Watch: Ohio Gay Couple Let Hateful Act Prompt Good Deeds

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday May 29, 2020

When a same-sex couple living in Arcanum, Ohio, were targeted with a malicious act of vandalism, they responded to hate with compassion - and action. The men promptly raised thousands for an LGBTQ support group as their antidote for hate.

Local news station WHIO reports that Bradley O'Dell and his fiance, Mike Stone, were confronted with the ugly slur on May 22 when they found someone had used a chemical compound to burn it into their lawn.

But though he was shocked and angry, O'Dell told the news station he was determined that, "Regardless of how much hate there was in this one single act, something good was gonna come out of it."

O'Dell added that "love always wins in the end."

O'Dell had grown up in Arcanum. He returned as an adult, he said, because "I know this community as a whole is great."

Stone discovered the epithet and, he said, "I never in a million years thought I would see that in my front yard."

Stone posted at Facebook his suspicion that the slur appeared in connection with a dispute he and O'Dell are having with the contractor who built the men's house. The dispute concerns, among other things, unfinished work.

Stone referenced other harassing incidents that have taken place on their property, and wrote:

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 went on to add:

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

The couple didn't leave that message in the form of words, though. They decided to take action, raising several thousand dollars for a good cause - the LGBTQ advocacy group Have a Gay Day.

The organization is based in Dayton, Ohio. Text at the group's website says, "Our Mission is to create a safe environment for the purpose of Equality, Education, and Support of the LGBT community and their Allies."

O'Dell characterized Have A Gay Day's work as follows: "If you're struggling with who you are, regardless of how you identify yourself, there are people out there that will support you."

Ohio has no hate crimes law that covers LGTBQ victims. But O'Dell and Stone evinced no focus on wanting to see punishment befall the perpetrator. Instead, they had a different message for that person:

"Do better, be better."

Watch the WHIO news clip below.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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