Bradley O’Dell and his fiancé Mike Stone were recently stunned to see someone had used chemicals to burn a homophobic slur into their front lawn.
The couple told local news station WHIO that they’ve lived in their home in Arcanum, Darke County (Western Ohio) for about a year.
“I grew up in this town,” said O’Dell. “I moved back for a reason and that’s because I know this community as a whole is great.”
But on May 22nd, Stone says he walked outside to find someone had burned the homophobic slur ‘F*G’ into the grass in their front yard.
“I never in a million years thought I would see that in my front yard,” Stone said. “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.”
“Am I pissed? Livid like you’ve probably never seen me,” wrote Stone in a Facebook post. “Did I go right ahead and mow that sh*t 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.”
Adding that the couple refuses to let an act of “small-minded ignorance” be allowed to bring negativity into their lives, they created a fundraiser on Facebook for the local organization Have a Gay Day.
The organization works to create a safe environment for the purpose of equality, education, and support for the LGBTQ community and its allies.
In six days, the fundraiser has racked up nearly $5,000 in donations.
“The love and support that has been shown and spread from our story has been incredible,” wrote Stone thanking friends, family, and strangers for their contributions. “Whether you are near or far, thank you for all of the love and compassion you have shown us and each other.”
“If this hateful act had to happen, we are thrilled to be able to turn it into a message of love and support,” he added.
Arcanum Police Chief Marcus Ballinger told WHIO that the investigation into who is responsible for the vandalism is still underway, but he’s not sure what the culprit would be charged with.
“It all comes down to what the prosecutors’ office decides how they want to proceed,” said Ballinger. “Right now we’re in the investigative phase of the case.”
Ohio’s statewide hate crime law offers no protection regarding crimes against someone for sexual orientation.