Last summer I reviewed the very thought-provoking documentary, Fagbug. Erin Davies had come out to her Volkswagen Beetle one day to find someone had painted “u r gay” and “fag” on it because of a small rainbow sticker she had on the car. While waiting for several days for the insurance company to view the car, Davies decided to take it in a whole new direction.
Davies took her car on the road to raise awareness of hate crimes and bigotry. The filming of her travels became the basis of the Fagbug documentary. While Davies did great work and definitely changed many people’s thoughts and attitudes, it seems there might still be more work to be done to reach a time when everyone can be accepted for who they are.
The following is a press release of the latest news surrounding Erin Davies and the Fagbug car. Let it be known that that bigots apparently aren’t known for their spelling or grammar.
PLATTSBURGH, NY – Prior to Erin Davies’s presentation at SUNY-Plattsburgh, where she showed clips from the film that is dedicated to whoever vandalized her car, a student came running in to give her the news.
“There’s writing on your car. I just went out to put a note on your car and saw It.” said Alex Fauchet, the treasurer of the GLBT club on campus. Erin asked what type of writing, and the students showed her pictures they took. She ran out to assess the damage.
“Faggets + Dikes Must Die” was written on her driver’s side window with black dry erase marker in the same place “fag” was spray painted nearly 4 years ago. “It wouldn’t have been so shocking in the beginning, but after four years and not having it happen, it’s a shock now. It amazes me what people feel comfortable doing when no one’s around. If someone thinks that, I’d be open to having a face-to-face conversation about it. But writing on my property when I’m not there to defend myself is just cowardly.”
After showing clips from the film, Erin opened up the conversation by asking what students thought the response would be to having the fagbug on their campus. No one guessed that it would be targeted the way it was. Ten out of around eighty people who were in the audience knew already what had happened. Erin informed the remainder of the audience by putting up a photograph she took of her window, “Faggets + Dikes Must Die.”
“This is what was written on my car on your campus about an hour ago. It’s the first time in four years this has ever happened. It didn’t happen on my road trip and I put the car in every vulnerable position you could imagine around the entire country. It hasn’t happened driving the car in my everyday life. It hasn’t happened at any other campuses I’ve been to and I’ve been to almost 100 schools with the car over four years. How does this make you feel?”
“I was shocked that anyone would do such a thing on a vehicle in plain sight. What would they have done if it had been out of sight? The thought of what could have happened if the car had been farther from campus is unsettling.” –Alex Fauchet
“I’m embarrassed by the actions of the individual who vandalized Erin Davies’s car. I feel that this will only contribute to the stereotype that small cities and towns are close-minded and intolerant based on the actions of either a student who wasn’t even raised here or a local resident.” – Kathryn Castillo
“It was incredibly upsetting to hear that this was the first time negative graffiti
has defaced the Fagbug since the original incident, and I was saddened but
not surprised that it could happen here.” –Jocelyn Cook
“Although, I’m surprised that it happened. Plattsburgh is not an area that I believe to be very educated on diversity.” -Sarah Wild
“I have lived in Plattsburgh, NY for 3 and half years. Being a gay man I have experienced homophobia all too often in this town. Unfortunately, this also happened to Erin while she was here to give her presentation. I wish the place I call home would evolve and realize that homophobia is a severe problem here. I hope homophobia and acts of violence against gay people in Plattsburgh, NY will change in time for the better. I guess we can all have a dream.” -Dan Sturrock
“This person clearly does not represent the whole campus; however, this will be the memory that will be taken away from that night. What this person did has not only affected Erin, but has also affected the entire campus community.” - Hayley Gentner
A student who was physically attacked as part of a hate crime introduced Erin at the beginning of her program. Erin spent a majority of the evening talking about the incident and climate in Plattsburgh.. There was fear in the audience and many stories were shared that backed it up. “At the same token places that are more remote appreciate my presence that much more. The students were so excited to have my car on their campus. They were all outside cheering as I arrived.”
A police officer circled the outside of the auditorium asking Erin, “Would you like to make a report?”
“Well, it’s not the way I planned to spend my evening, but of course. I’m a firm believer in documenting things like this. How can you change or fix a problem if no one knows the problem even exists?” The incident was filed as criminal mischief and hate crime.
Once Erin returned to her car after the event, a smile came to her face. She had 12 new hand-written notes left on her car to add to her collection. One included a pastel colored bracelet and the note said, “Here’s a bracelet to remember me and your journey to Plattsburgh. I made this bracelet in my first Day of Silence, the same day your car was vandalized.”
“Things like this make it worth every discomfort or struggle I have or may continue to endure.”
Erin sees the message she received as another teaching moment. “It doesn’t make me feel afraid. I feel even more motivated to educate people on the intolerance that exists. It’s everywhere. People need to know that.”
Fagbug Update: Car Owner Receives Death Threats