On the morning of April 18, 2007, Erin Davies left her apartment for her daily commute to class.
In what appeared to be a negative reaction to the National Day of Silence, Davies’ car had been vandalized. “Fag” was emblazoned in red spray paint on the driver’s side window, while “u r gay” covered the hood of her gray Volkswagen Beetle.
Shock and paranoia overtook Davies. While she is a lesbian and had a rainbow sticker on the back of her car, she wasn’t participating in any National Day of Silence activities.
To this day, she has no idea who did it. However, she couldn’t imagine how drastically her life was about to change.
Too humiliated to drive her car that day, Davies took a rental car. However, a difficulty by her insurance company when processing her repair work caused a five-day delay. During that time, she developed an appreciation for the vandalism.
“Had they been able to fix the car that day, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now,” Davies said.
After being encouraged by a friend to use the vandalism for a greater good, Davies created the “fagbug.” Now, a rainbow-colored vinyl sticker covers her entire car, raising eyebrows and awareness as she travels across the country.
“Now, my car’s the gayest thing in the universe,” Davies joked.
For 58 days, Davies traveled across the continental U.S. and Canada, reaching out to others who have experienced homophobia, bullying and harassment because of their sexual orientation. This journey was captured in the appropriately named documentary “Fagbug.”
“I hear stories about young kids killing themselves, and I hope they hear about it and realize there’s a more positive way of looking at it,” Davies said.
She still continues to travel the country, and even has plans to ship her car to Hawaii and make the drive to Alaska to hit the last two remaining states. On Monday, Davies and her fagbug visited Youngstown State University.
Brian Wells, an academic adviser for the Bitonte College of Health and Human Services and the adviser to YSUnity, was instrumental in bringing Davies and the fagbug to campus.
He felt the visit was necessary to shine a light on the ugliest part of LGBTQIA intolerance.
“Even though you may not agree with my politics, you agree that I should not be harassed and my property should not be vandalized,” Wells said. “I think this is a terrific way to bring people together.”
Throughout her travels, Davies has received an overwhelming amount of support that has outweighed the minimal opposition. In the James Gallery in Kilcawley Center, Davies displayed several binders full of notes she’s found under her windshield wipers. Most are supportive, and that’s what keeps her going.
As of Monday morning, she had 305. That number increased to 306 after another one was found on her car when she was leaving campus on Monday afternoon.
Eventually, Davies hopes to have her car displayed in a museum in front of a wall covered in notes and articles about her journey.
As for the vandal, she’s confident she’ll encounter him or her in the future.
“I’ve been so visible with it, people are constantly spreading the word, she said. “Every day, more and more people know about it.”