FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Erin Davies is bugged by intolerance and driven to stop hate crimes. As a victim of an anti-gay hate crime, she turned her personal experience into a mission and a movie…to raise awareness about hate crimes and homophobia in our society. Now, Davies is bringing her story, her movie—and her “fagbug”—to Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW).
Davies will be on the IPFW campus on Tuesday, Oct. 26, spending the day talking to student groups and interacting with the campus community. At 7 p.m. in the Walb Student Union Ballroom, she will show the documentary film she made during a 58-day cross-country tour in her car, the “fagbug.” The film screening will be followed by a question and answer session with Davies. Her car will be on display throughout the day at the Science Building Mall on campus. Both the film screening and the car display are free and open to the public.
On the 11th Annual National Day of Silence (April 18, 2007), Davies received an unexpected response to the rainbow sticker on her Volkswagen Beetle. A perpetrator, who remains unknown to this day, had scrawled “fAg” and “u r gay” in red spray-paint on the driver's side window and hood of her car.
Although initially shocked and embarrassed by the vandalism, Davies, a lesbian graduate student living in upstate New York, seized the opportunity to help spread awareness about the need to improve society’s gender-identity climate. Instead of removing the graffiti, she took her bug, now known worldwide as the “fagbug,” on a 58-day consciousness-raising trip across the United States and Canada. Along the way, she talked to people and filmed their reactions to the car and its message. The trip provided her the opportunity to discover other, more serious hate crimes and to interact with supporters, as well as those threatened and confused by the message.
She shaped the footage into an 83-minute documentary, appropriately named, FagBug. The movie has been shown at 35 film festivals and about 70 college campuses and forums, and has won sponsorships from Volkswagen Group of America and the Sundance Film Festival.
After driving the fagbug for one year, Davies gave her car a makeover. The 2002 VW Beetle still holds traces of the original vandalism, but it has been repainted with rainbow stripes to signify Davies’s pride in her identity.
In addition to campaigning against homophobia and anti-gay hate crimes, Davies’s mission is to give a voice to those who are silent, to inspire others to take a stand against bullies, and to be an example of how to overcome obstacles in bringing a creative project to life. Davies’s visit is sponsored by Safe Zone at IPFW and Safe Zone for Students, units of IFPW’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.
For more information, e-mail Julie Creek, coordinator, Center for Women and Returning Adults, or call 260-481-4140.