Erin Davies, Fag Bug owner and inspiration, put up a nice update/post and I thought it would be fitting to pass it along. I’m so proud of Las Vegas for being a part of this. I’m like the activist version of the Grinch: When we brought Erin to Las Vegas in July, my heart grew two sizes.
Hello Fagbug Supporters,
I just wanted to thank everyone who ordered fagbug merchandise, donation toward my trip, or gave me emotional support along the way! I couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you…
After returning home from being on the road for 58 consecutiv days, I counted my footage and permission slips. I collected over 80 hours of footage, and interviewed over 250 people along the way!
Although I anticipated telling other vandalized car stories, early on in my trip I realized things were much worse than I realized. Between March and May of this year, I found out about 3 major hate crimes that happened in SC, FL, and IN toward men for being gay or perceived as gay. Sean Kennedy (20) of SC, Ryan Skipper (25) of FL, and Aaron Hall (34) of IN were all murdered and unlike Matthew Shepard’s story, these stories haven’t received much national press. Through my documentary, I hope to be able to do something to change that.
Most people had never seen something like my car before. By not seeing it, it’s easy to think it doesn’t happen. But by seeing it, people start to realize it’s a problem and eventually and hopefully can begin to come up with a solution.
Along the way, lots of people tried to remove the graffiti on my car, told me ways to fix it, asked me to move out of hotel parking lots for creating a “problem.”
On the flip side, the random kindness of strangers I witnessed along the way was amazing and so inspiring. SO many people helped me pay for hotels, meals, gas, organized events, emotional support, etc.
VW signed on to sponsor me and reimburse me for gas and car related expenses, girlpunch.com sponsored me by buying me a laptop for the trip, gaywheels.com, stop the f word, and http://www.glee.com became major sponsors, Paul wesselmann (of Madison, Wisconsin) sponsored me which allowed me to buy a new video camera when mine broke and a woman from the UK volunteered her time to get my merchandise up for online ordering. . .
I took out a 5k loan from my dad to be able to do the trip and through fundraisers, selling of merchandise, donations, sponsorships, and the kindness of strangers, I somehow broke even which is something I never could’ve imagined when I took off to do this. I was somewhat terrified of how much debt I would be in after it all.
The first day I drove my car a student at my school told me I should march with it in the Albany Pride parade, and that seemed like a crazy idea. Now I’ve done not only Albany Pride, but NYC Pride, Pittsburg Pride, San Diego Pride, Colorado Springs Pride, St. Pete Pride, Syracuse Pride, Allentown Pride, and Vancouver Pride where I won the award for Most Outstanding Individual in the Pride Parade. Coming up Sept 15th I’ll be leading the parade in Peterborough Canada.
Because my car says the word fag on it, I am particularly interested in learning about what would motivate someone to write that, or more seriously do something worse. It seems that there is a double standard in our society, where being a lesbian is somewhat accepted or seen as cool, but people still feel disgusted by the idea of two men together.
Along the way I began to wonder if people would respond differently to me if I was a male stepping out of a car that said fag, so I had a friend from Indiana named Brandon drive my car for three days.
In having Brandon drive my car, we got pulled over by a police officer who yelled at us for having an obscenity on the car who told us driving it to educate people was the dumbest thing he’d ever heard of and after I told him we were keeping the graffiti on, he took his finger nails and began to scratch it off.
Also, while Brandon was driving my car, two 18 year old boys yelled the word fag out the window as they drove by and saw Brandon behind the wheel. I got them to come back to be interviewed after that and they admitted it’s something they’d done to someone before. So there we were talking to people who would do something like this.
I’ve decided to take a year off grad school to launch a fall/spring high school/college speaking tour to share my story as well as the stories I discovered along the way.
I am also taking this year off to prioritize getting the documentary done so the story of fagbug can be widely accessible to everyone.
If anyone has any ideas for speaking engagements or connections at schools please let me know.
Also, I will be applying for grants to help come up with the funding for production and post production costs for the documentary so if anyone is interested in helping me apply for grants, donate, or fundraise please let me know. My goal is to have it done by April 18, 2008 which will be my one year marker of driving my car as is.
It’s amazing how making one small decision can change everything in your life, put you on a whole new path, and connect you with so many people around the country and world.
Thanks again for all your support!