| July 12, 2010

Fagbug came to me via different means. Instead of coming through PR, it came from my family via the filmmaker/subject herself. Some of my family and friends had been at Gay Pride in Chicago a few weeks back. My sister bought the movie from the filmmaker at Pride, then after watching it, was telling me how good it is and what a profound effect it had on her and the others who were watching it with her.
After Fagbug was passed along to my niece’s friends, I finally got my hands on it. I’m now compiling a list of all the people I need to pass it off to as well. I think it touches everyone in a different way. Sadly, most of us know someone who has been victimized in some way, if not having it happen to us directly. While you would think in 2010 we’re long past the point of discrimination, sadly this documentary proves we’re not.
Erin Davies came out to her car, a grey Volkswagen Beetle, one day and found someone had spray painted in red “Fag” on the driver’s side window, and “u r gay” on the hood of the car. Since the insurance company had considered the car drivable, it took them five days to come out and see the car and take a report. In the process, Erin seemed to go through a whole range of emotions with the experience, and getting support from strangers, as well as family and friends. By the time the insurance company came out, they only attached $350 on to the price of the claim, but Erin’s deductible was $500.
Buoyed by the support she was already feeling, Erin decided to take her car, which was now being called Fagbug, out on the road and film the experience. I think what came out of it was learning by everyone involved, including Erin herself. The people that heard her story were touched by it, and learned some acceptance, and how they could possibly change their own perspective. Erin asked questions from everyone she met to get the conversation going. One of the questions was how different this might have turned out if it was a man driving the Fagbug.
Although the police were hesitant to think of this as a hate crime, Erin was still connecting to it in that way. The police didn’t want to see it like that because they think the car was vandalized because of a rainbow sticker, and that it wasn’t vandalized because of Erin’s lifestyle, per se. Nevertheless, on her trip across the country, she stopped and saw the family and friends of some of the victims of hate crimes that ended in murder from the time directly before and after her car was vandalized. It was a very somber reality of what the victimization of a car could lead to.
As I said, everyone is touched by Fagbug in a different way. For me it reminded me of a situation with my daughter that until now I never thought of as a hate crime of sorts. She has just “graduated” middle school, and last year, back in 7th grade, a couple girls were calling her gay and saying that she had put her hand down one of the girl’s shirts. My daughter vehemently denied doing this. She asked what she should do to get the taunting to stop, and I ignorantly told her to just ignore it, thinking the game these other girls were playing wouldn’t keep playing out if they weren’t getting a reaction of any sorts.
I was wrong. My daughter came home one day in tears telling me she was being suspended. This is a girl that has never gotten in trouble before. She also has a learning disability. She doesn’t always understand every conversation that is going on around her. From her perspective, the three other girls, the same ones who had been taunting her, cornered her in the locker room and were calling her gay again. They were kicking her, and she fell down and hit her head on a locker. Coming back up, she slapped one of the girls to defend herself and get away. She was now suspended for three days, and the other girls for less time.
Without going on a total rant, I pursued this with the school district, why the others had received less punishment when they were the aggressors, and did get the suspension taken off my daughter’s record. But the other girls were never reprimanded for the bullying. And regardless of any punishment, the damage had been done. Friends of these girls continued to taunt my daughter at school. By the time 8th grade started, I hoped it would all be forgotten, but my daughter broke down in tears a few times during the school year telling me people were constantly coming up to her and asking her if she was gay and if she was a lesbian. Again, there’s a learning disability, so she asked me what a lesbian was. I had never taught her about differences in people.
Yet that’s where this all comes together for me. I didn’t teach my daughter hatred or differences, but thanks to what happened to her at school, she now sees differences in people. She didn’t see a difference in races and would call most other races “brown” people. I decided not to correct her, as it was like saying that person with the red hair. But now, she sees differences. The girls that attacked her are of a different race, and now my daughter fears all people of different races. She also doesn’t want to be connected in any way with someone who is gay. She lives in fear that she’ll be called that again. I understand. I was called ugly in 8th grade, and honestly, that label still haunts me.
Yet we’re never going to change the middle school girls of this world until we change the adults. With this behavior being allowed to continue, they’ll grow to be the type of people who paint “fag” on someone’s car. Their behavior is directly reflective of the schools that allow it and their parents who assumably do as well. It doesn’t matter what I say or do to help my own kids, as there is hatred being taught to others. It will take brave individuals like Erin Davies to go on personal crusades trying to change people’s opinions. Perhaps with that it will change adult lives, and that will someday be brought into the schools and to more homes. Maybe someday schools will see that calling people names is sometimes just as hurtful as a slap in the face.
Starting July 13, Fagbug is available on Netflix, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and iTunes´╗┐.

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