Few events have stood out as much or been as memorable as the visit of the Fagbug and it’s owner, Erin Davies to The LGBT Center of St. Louis, Sept. 29. The iconic auto drew quite the crowd as passers by on Manchester snapped pictures with their phone. Inside, a screening of Davies’ documentary “Fagbug” unfolded followed by a q&a by the filmmaker, artist and activist.
On April 18, 2007, Davies, then an Art Education graduate student at Sage College in Albany, New York, awoke to find the words “Fag” and “ U R Gay” spray painted on her Volkswagen New Beetle. Her first response, Erin says, was shame. But as she waited the frustrating five days for the repairs to be made, she watched people react to her vandalized car on the street. Although she was given a rental, she had a strong urge to drive her car, graffiti and all.
Davies felt a calling to take the bug on a mission. She found the car to be a great draw to people and to elicit reactions from passers-by.
“It’s not just my problem, it’s everybody’s," she states.
Davies put her studies on hold and embarked on a video-documented 55,000 mile journey through 41 States, interviewed 500 people and spoke out, whenever asked, against hate crimes.
On the journey, Davies picked up sponsorships from Volkswagen of America and the Sundance Film Festival which paid for gas money, repairs and for the film. In 2009, her documentary film premiered to acclaim at film festivals throughout the United States.
Now almost six years later, Davies still travels with the Fagbug (Volkswagen gave it a stylized rainbow paint job and Fagbug branding) at least half the year and speaks about diversity and hate crimes.
Surprisingly, the documentary states that 90% of negative reactions to the Fagbug are from LGBT people.
“Even today in 2012, many people aren’t comfortable being open or out of the closet,” says Davies. “Or they say the Fagbug is 'too visible' or 'too out there' or some say, 'why dig it up'?”
Davies took a shocking negative – an assault on her property and turned it into a positive. Embracing LGBT visibility, she jumped at the chance to meet everyday people, make some allies and teach about diversity along the way.
By LIZ LaVENTURE