Davies
Erin Davies and her car, known as the "Fagbug", will appear at Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus on February 24. Davies travels the country, telling her story as victim of a hate crime.

A slur anonymously graffitied on the side of her car has led Erin Davies on a trip of a lifetime.

Initially, Davies said she was humiliated when she awoke one April morning in 2007 and found the word "fag" on the driver's side window. Her embarrassment intensified when the New York grad school student was asked by public safety officers to remove her car from campus due to numerous complaints they had received.

Davies, who wasn't able to have the graffiti removed for a week, said a friend then suggested that she drive the car, with the slur intact, for a week to raise awareness about hate crimes and homophobia.

"Basically, it sparked this whole dialogue and I couldn't just go about my life and ignore it," she said. "Two days into it, I just had this gut feeling that I might as well embrace this. It wasn't my problem. It was everyone else's."

The 28-year-old then began to plan for a two-month road trip throughout the country by herself to gay pride events and other venues such as college campuses and high school assemblies. Along the way, she videotaped interviews and conversations as she encountered people with the intentions of making a documentary.

"A month into the trip, someone removed the graffiti from my car. I had already been on the news station. Once I got into the news, I knew I had to keep going forward with it," she said.

Davies had a decision to make about how much the car added to the trip.

"My car without me does so many things. It's great to have me there to speak to, but it's the car that really gets people talking," she said.

A rainbow sticker that Davies had on her car became the inspiration behind the new look of her car. Bold, colorful, horizontal stripes lined the car and the words "Fagbug" were prominently displayed on the side.

"It was a difficult decision to turn my car into a rainbow, but it's much more visible. It's a bigger, bolder statement. Then the whole thing really started to spread, especially online," she said. "Everywhere I went, people came up to talk to me about it. I interviewed 500 people that first year. It broke down barriers of communication. No matter if I was getting groceries or gas, strangers would come talk to me all the time."

Davies, who had planned to become an art teacher, dropped out of grad school to pursue a new career in speaking and to finish her film, also named "Fagbug," which debuted in 2009, almost two years to the day of the incident.

"I had raised $100,000 through speaking engagements and 'fagbug' merchandise to finish the film," she said. "It just showed me that you can accomplish your goals even if you don't have the money."

Davies now lives in Syracuse and continues to travel throughout the United States and Canada, bringing her car with her to speaking events. She will appear at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, 12:30 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free. Davies said the program will feature a viewing of her documentary and the telling of her story.

To date, Davies said she has visited 48 states in her car, and plans to visit them all. She said at this time, she doesn't plan to return to grad school, and has no end date for her speaking out against hate crimes.

"I feel like by me having the opposite reaction of what people would have normally done in that situation, I internalized it and forced the person who did this to see how they were wrong. It empowered me, and I have to continue to empower other people," he said.

"Everything I've done and accomplished so far is because of the anonymous thing someone did. This is my way of holding this person accountable. In my own way, I am communicating to this person and I have defeated that person."

(2) comments

julieann

I dont want a discussion, because i know what the truth is without anyone having to try to convince me that a woman desiring a womans body or a man desiring a mans body is abnormal. My point is this, I know why Herald Standard Newspaper is so small and losing business, because they only care about reporting on the liberal opinions that go against what our United States of America was founded upon. Brave men and women who was willing to die for freedom and take a stand for truth. now we tolerate what we would have thought would never been tolerated in this country. We better take a stand or as we see, unfortunatly, this country will fall ( for anything) : (

DrBernardSinclair

Julieann - I think you are being too harsh on the local newspaper! Like it or not this person's appearance is news. You should direct that anger at Penn State Fayette and their administration. I have a feeling that the people who set up these events at PSU are a little out of touch with the local community - they do not try very hard to show both sides of issues to students.

As for the rest of your message - Do you seriously think that a rainbow painted bug with the word "fagbug" on the side of it will cause any serious problems for the nation? I would be curious to know if you associate yourself with the "Tea Party?" Funny how you have perverted conservatism into bigotry, but you have totally forgotten about the first amendment or even the freedom from persecution that this country was founded on.

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