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Fagbug: America's Many Reactions to Homophobia

Updated on February 9, 2012

In April 2007, Erin Davies, a grad student living in Albany, New York, discovered that her gray Volkswagen Bug had been vandalized with spray paint, with the word "fag" written on the driver's side window and the phrase "U R Gay" sprayed on the front of the car. The reason, she assumed, was a rainbow sticker in the back window of her car. Unable to secure a rental car and not having enough money at the time to get the spray paint off, she decided to just drive the car as-is, and intrigued by the reactions she got she eventually decided to embark on a cross-country voyage to see what people's reactions to the graffiti was, documenting her trip with a video camera all along the way.

And it's quite impressive the sheer diversity of the people she encountered: people who were horrified at the homophobia of the graffiti, people who felt it was obscene, homophobes, survivors of homophobic attacks and family members of those who had been killed, people who thought Erin had made the whole thing up, people who thought Erin was using it as an excuse to become wealthy and famous, Fagbug internet fans, and people who tried to remove the graffiti from the car without asking Erin about it. That last one even causes some problems for Erin--before setting off on her trip, she has to re-paint her window in order to do the trip properly.

This film really is an interesting cross-section of America's complicated views on homophobia. Most of the people Erin meets are horrified that this crime of vandalism could have happened in their home town, but it is interesting that more people seem to believe it the deeper into the South Erin goes--they're still horrified, but it's a horror mixed with being resigned to the fact that the world around them is homophobic, whereas people in the North are shocked that homophobia is an issue in their backyards, even though plenty of homophobic acts that Erin learns about (not to mention the incident that starts the whole affair off) occurred far above the Mason-Dixon line.

It is interesting to see how Erin is empowered by this act of homophobic vandalism against her, after the initial feelings of being victimized and insulted. As mentioned before, just before setting off on her trip she has to re-spray her window with the word "fag," as some industrious person manages to scratch most of it off with a razor blade. She views later attempts to remove it with a sense of amusement. Later on in the trip she even gets customized license plates that say "FG BUG," and, after a year of driving her car with "fag" sprayed on her window, she finally gets it removed...only to have her Bug detailed so that it becomes rainbow colored. Erin Davies now drives across the country giving presentations on homophobia, and is currently working on a sequel to "Fagbug" which should hopefully be finished soon. When she thanks whoever originally sprayed her car in the end credits, it's sincere--that act of homophobia has led to so much awareness-raising about homophobia in this country, ironically creating gay icons both out of Erin and her rainbow-colored car.

All in all, a great film. Definitely check it out if you haven't, especially as it is free to watch on Hulu currently. I can't wait for the sequel and whatever else Erin Davies produces in her life. A must-see

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    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 

      6 years ago from Midwest

      What an inspirational story and a great example of how to turn hate into a useful learning tool and social experiment. I find this story fascinating and I am glad this young lady empowered herself to do something positive with her well justified anger and hurt. Good for Erin.

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