‘Fagbug’ promotes awareness about hate crimes


Students stop to take a look at the FagBug in front of the M.A.C. Center on the Kent State campus on Tuesday afternoon. The owner, Erin Davies, was inspired after her own VW Beetle was vandalized in Albany, NY, and she drove the car around for a year and made a documentary about her experience and to help raise awareness about hate crimes and homophobia. Photo by Jessica Denton

Kirsten Bowers

Erin Davies went out to her car on an April morning in 2007. When she reached her gray Volkswagen Beetle, she found the phrase “UR Gay” across the hood of her car in red paint and the word “Fag” sprayed across the driver’s side window.

At first, Davies said she wasn’t sure why they’d chosen her car — then she remembered she had a rainbow sticker across her back windshield.

Rather than remove the graffiti and ignore what happened, Davies decided to embrace it and left New York for a cross-country road trip, filming a documentary along the way to raise awareness about anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.

At the end of the tour, Davies had her car painted all the colors of the rainbow and dubbed it “Fagbug,” which was written across the side.

Four-and-one-half years later, Davies still travels around the country with her car and speaks about her experiences. Tuesday night, she stopped at Kent State where she showed her documentary and answered the audience’s questions.

As students watched her documentary titled, like her car, “Fagbug,” they witnessed Davies endure both positive and negative reactions to the rainbow-colored Beetle.

Davies said over the years, her car has been egged, keyed and spit on — among other things — but she has also received support.

She said her favorite part of driving the “Fagbug” is when she finds handwritten notes left on the windshield. She said over the past four-and-one-half years, she has received 258 notes, and only four or five have been negative.

Davies told the group of around 25 students a story of one note she received.

“I got a note recently that’s one of my favorites. It says, ‘Sometimes I run past your car when I’m out running, and I told myself the next time I did I would break up with my perfect boyfriend and tell him the truth: I’m gay. Here goes nothing. Thanks, Fagbug,’” Davies said.

Students who attended the event said they thought Davies was both brave and inspiring.

Whitney Robinson, freshman fashion merchandising major and secretary of PRIDE! Kent, said she thought about buying one of the “Fagbug” stickers Davies brought with her.

“I wanted to put one on my car, but I realized I’m too afraid someone would do something to my car,” Robinson said.

Freshman photo illustration major Chloe Hackathorn said she would like to try something like this but on a smaller scale.

“I get nervous driving around with my equal-rights sticker,” Hackathorn said.

Other students, like Wolfgang Davidson, freshman psychology major, were ready to embrace the hateful words.

“We [people in the LGBTQ community] are labeled by people by so many words, and if we let these words define us, then we’re letting them win,” Davidson said.

Davies said she plans to travel to Hawaii and Alaska next May and June and is going to make another documentary. Sometimes it can get to be too much, and she said she has even considered selling the “Fagbug,” but something always happens to pull her back in.

“I’ve surrendered to the fact that I’m meant to take this on,” Davies said.

Contact Kirsten Bowers at [email protected].