FOF #590 – The Hate Bug

Aug 14, 2007 · 1985 views

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One spring morning in Albany NY, art education grad student Erin Davies woke up to find her Volkswagen Beetle vandalized with the words “fAg” and “UR gAy” in red spray paint. Instead of removing the […]


  1. I agree this is a dialouge, but it’s not necessarily a constructive one. We’re arguing on the integrity of the messenger, not the message itself. Because Erin has had an impact, is really the only reason people are trying to tear her down. Even the great Martin Luther King had his naysayers.

    The danger of negative comments runs the risk of silencing others who may come forward to share their own stories. I welcome negative comments thrown at me, as long as they are set in specific points. Don’t like what I said, my hair color, my fat gut, my buck teeth.

    But the problem I too often see is that the “criticism” isn’t rooted in anything concrete. What is it SPECIFICALLY that is bothering you about Erin? The fact that she has the potential to make a much smaller fraction of your annual salary doing something she believes in and that directly helps you in the long run.

    Too many GLBT people think that our “fight” is over. Everyone knows somebody who has had their car vandalized because of their causal desire to place an identifying rainbow sticker on the bumper. I think stickers are cheesy and I find it bizarre that in 2007 it would cause anyone to react in such a violent way. But there it is, and here we are. We need to move forward as people.

  2. Minion says:

    Hey, I just want to say how happy I am to see some one out there standing up and raising awareness of this issue. I have been gay bashed, and I have had my car vandalized because I was gay.

    I am just happy that is some one strong enough to stand up and make a difference and an impact like this.

    The fight is not over! Don’t stop trying to get people aware of these issues.

    I got involved with the martial arts to better prepare myself in case something like this happens to me again. I encourage all gay people to learn a martial art. Don’t think that because people react to this and don’t back down or cover it up that we are trying to get attention, we are fighting the fight you guys are not strong enough to fight yourselves. STOP BLAMING THE VICTIMS!

  3. DynaMike says:

    I don’t understand why people are faulting Erin for attempting to turn this into a documentary. I mean come on, that’s her outlet—would you rather she write a crappy song about it and post it on YouTube?

    This is her niche. This is her art. I fail to see how Erin expressing herself in her preferred mode of self-expression could be considered an act of shameless self-promotion.

  4. Alex says:

    i agree with dynamike. i would much rather have erin promote a cause by making a documentary and actually bringing attention to it instead of whining about it on youtube. and even if it is “self-promotion” (which it isn’t) then so what? shes still bringing up a major issue that people have been sweeping under the rug by doing what she’s doing. i seriously doubt that if erin made a song called “fag bug car” (to the tune of chocolate rain) that it would have the same effect.

  5. bowdownza says:

    This show was great. I agree with Fausto. It seems that people are criticizing Erin for what amount to personal reasons and along the way missing the point of the message. The point is she is out there risking her dignity and maybe personal safety to show people what hate crimes look like. I believe that straight people just don’t get it, and I don’t think they ever will understand the fear that gays have to live with, even though it can be to varying degrees.

    As for all the criticism of Erin, I agree it is really not coming from a logical place. Take for example here in chicago the new Center on Halstead. I do not agree that they needed to fundraise thousands of dollars just to furnish the lobby. Does that mean I think people should boycott the center? Does that mean their programs are not necessary? No.

    A filmmaker who wants to further her own carreer?!!
    A blogger who is self absorbed?!!
    Are these really surprising faults?
    Are these people idiots?

    That man that you called seemed to me to be saying nothing more than she should not be doing this because it brings a bad image to Albany. Well the fact is chump, no matter what you say, it did not happen in Ithaca or Buffalo but it did happen in Albany.

  6. ‘Vandelism to property’ construed as a movement worthy of documentation is quite unusual. If a therapeutic approach is required to overcome ‘the shock’ of receiving vandalism to property, she took it on the road to meet new people, travel to new places, and discuss a very singular topic that appears on first blush not to be rich in content. It’s original to say the least.

    Personally, I believe that “fAg” or “U R gay” is beyond the point since most people are more sympathetic to vandelism of property than to the poor language utilized. She is not offended by the terms and she takes advantage of others that are sympathetic about the issues-at-hand.

    I was most touched by the guy who wrote the note “it’s a shame that you made it up” and spoke about his personal interest in photography of graffitti art. Specifically, I think he was trying to point out the clear line between graffitti art to public areas versus vandelism to private property. His mistake was indicating that vandelism to property is “an isolated incident” (even if Albany, it’s hard to believe). But, I think his motives are the most interesting part of the discussion.

    Vandelism to property is a concern; however, it’s hard to sympathize with the choices being made subsequent to the incident. Frankly, it’s the cost of vandelism to property that is worth discussion. In the end, Erin is no “Obey Campaign” which really created a true graffitti art movement worth documentation and discussion.

  7. bowdownza says:

    is that last guy really a gay man?

    When you are gay and someone writes the word fag on your car er well if they did it to my car, the last thing I would be thinking about is vandalism to property. It is more of a personal attack, assuming the person who wrote it knew me and my car. the other option, that it was just happy luck that the douchebag who did this just happened to hit my faggoty car would not make me feel any less like it was a personal attack.

    the choices Erin has made have nothing to do with vandalism to property but to the fact that she may no longer feel safe in her community and (I am projecting here) wants to let other people see what kind of attacks gay people have to put up with. You are a gay man and out of all this you actually manage to say that it is thecost of vandalism to property that is worth discussion???!!!

  8. In his post, bowdownza brilliantly stated:

    When you are gay and someone writes the word fag on your car er well if they did it to my car, the last thing I would be thinking about is vandalism to property.


    the choices Erin has made have nothing to do with vandalism to property but to the fact that she may no longer feel safe in her community and (I am projecting here) wants to let other people see what kind of attacks gay people have to put up with.

    I completely agree. This has nothing to do with the car, the paint, whether or not it truly is graffiti, or whether or not it is a reflection of Albany in general. This has to do with one unbalanced and off-center individual seeking to harm somebody else, presumably to draw attention away from his/her own pain. This has been too many people’s life experiences, and it will continue to do so as long as we shoot the messenger, rather than help heal the problem.

  9. I am glad that Erin was a guest on your show – she appeared on mine as well and I think she is an amazing person. I think it is incredible that she has taken her time to go all over the US to talk about her story and what she has happened during her trip. We need more people like Erin to make changes in our community and help end all of us being treated like second class citizens.

  10. Lucas says:

    It’s an interesting show… While I would make no judgement on the authenticity of Erin’s accounts of the events, however, I wonder whether authenticity and altruistic intentions are requirements of starting a good cause. Suppose Erin’s Fagbug was a complete fabrication of her own creation. Does that really make what she is trying to do in raising awareness and creating a movement any less significant? Is it not true, that hate crimes against LGBTQ persons are occurring on a regular basis, throughout the world? Is it not true, that cars have been spray painted in the past with messages of hate in response to the owner’s supposed sexual orientation?

    Greatness of a person is really assigned by historians in reviewing the person’s specific actions and his/her responses to the events that follow. Columbus was assigned as the “great man” who discovered America — even though his intentions may be completely selfish and motivated by greed. Similarly, Christian missionaries may help the poor people in under developed countries, but their intent is to promote and spread their own religious beliefs. No one can know, other than Erin herself, what her true intentions are. I hope that the movement to raise awareness about hate crimes against LGBTQ persons does not get (and it should not be ) diluted by questions regarding her intentions and her motivations.

  11. Tommy says:

    I have to say, this has been one of the best episodes I have heard. Its along the lines for when y’all did the interview with Davis Mac Iyalla, about gay activism in Nigeria.

    I am amazed by the discourse this episode have produced.

  12. To Bowdownza:

    What you see with Erin’s car and story is what you get. There is no evidence that Erin knows who vandelized her personal property or the motive behind the incident. It’s still a blank slate that she chooses to explore. Your “if it was me” position is beyond the point.

    She is making choices subsequent to the incident about something that she knows she can immediately change. If generating awareness is what she wants to achieve, I think there is some provocative discussion as to what Hate Crimes are about which is a public good for society to determine.

    Relative to the reported murder and assault on gay men, it’s hard for me to objectively define this car as a Hate Crime equivalent to those incidents. It’s hard pressed for me to believe that the gay community would want the greater straight community to believe that this outcome is something unique and different that “vandelism of personal property.”

    Portraying this incident beyond that is both risky and divisive.

  13. npica says:

    First of all, lets try to cool it with the “idiots” and “miserable women” and “WTFs.” And lets try to keep it “above the belt,” as Fausto has reminded us to do.

    As a woman, and a dyke I am disappointed and saddened to get the kind of replies to my comments that I have gotten. It is in such typical gay white male misogynist fashion to get these sorts of responses. If you criticize, you run the risk of being told that you are jealous, envious, feel disenfranchised, and are a miserable woman who should stand up with her lesbian sister. Shame on you people for being just like all other straight while males that women have to contend with every day of our “miserable” lives. I stand up plenty on my own, I don’t need to stand up with a woman whose “cause” I perceive to be a sham. It’s about ethics and integrity and picking the righteous battles that offer an intelligent and discriminating argument and not a spot on the next “Fagbug Across America” MTV reality TV show, which will effect NO change, in my opinion, call me crazy.

    Just because someone is doing something good, and I do think that Erin is probably doing some of that, does not mean that we should all suddenly get behind her. Would you give money and support to a foundation that supports efforts in fighting breast cancer and research and care of women with breast cancer but refuses to give money to associations like Planned Parenthood that among the many and priceless services they offer to women also happen to provide abortion services? I would not! Would you give your vote to a politician that is pro-choice but not pro-gay? I would not!

    What exactly is Erin’s agenda? What is her position on issues of race and class? Her blogs do not really seem to portray any favorable light on her in this respect. If you’re gonna be an activist against homophobia, you have to be willing and able to confront issues other than those that are closely related. Classism, racism, misogyny, these sorts of things. There is no intelligent and critical reflection of these things in Erin’s blogs, which I’m assuming are supposed to reflect the kind of “activist” that she is. All I’m saying is that by taking on this role and title of activist, Erin needs to become a lot more informed and a lot more enlightened than she currently is.

  14. MMJ says:

    To npica- Just because you don’t support Erin’s campaign doesn’t mean you have to campaign against her. Sure, you have the right to do it, but is that being productive in any way? Could you, and the rest of the “down with FagBug” people maybe find something more useful to do with you time and effort? Perhaps start your own hate crime awareness campaign, one that you feel fits your definition of activism…and leave FagBug and Erin alone.

  15. npica says:

    We do plenty of useful things with our time, and Erin is now in the public eye, as she herself wanted to be, so it is within anyone’s right to criticize her. Criticizing her does not mean campaigning against her. Criticism is good and can only make any cause better. If you want to go ahead and support Erin without really looking into her motivations and her mission, go right ahead. I prefer not to.

  16. Npica,

    I am really astounded at your indictment of all gay white men as misogynists! Shame on you. You have lowered yourself to the level of those you would indict. I’m personally offended as I have argued strenuously without stooping to those levels.

    I really don’t think the construction of your arguments are holding up here. You are basically saying that since she doesn’t fight everything simultaneously, she shouldn’t be given credit for fighting anything? And that since activism is not her career choice, she should not act up?

    I give money to several organizations because I doubt they are sharing the money with each other or directly supporting each other’s initiatives.

    I think your real issues with Erin stem from personality differences and interpersonal/relationship conflicts that have arisen on the periphery of, or even before, Erin’s project. These conflicts have understandably colored your vision of her. For example, you think she may have violated the privacy of her ex-girlfriend, a good friend of yours, in her blog. I don’t read the blog, but I would see that as a valid issue for you and those close to the issue. The break-up happened, I’m sure there was a lot more involved, and you and yours feel your friend was the more honorable person in the process. Maybe you didn’t agree with all of Erin’s choices when the two were still together. These are reasonable criticisms that reasonable people would accept and they would certainly color your view of her future actions. If I got to know Erin, maybe I wouldn’t like the way the does some things as well. This could be said of anyone, imperfect as we are.

    Regarding the project itself, I think most people are saying that they don’t really care that she is using it as a platform for the production of a documentary, that she is trying to sell merchandise to those ends, and trying to advance her career. Maybe Erin is on a journey to describing it more in that fashion which may be appropriate. I think most of the people here feel it doesn’t cheapen the kernel of the whole thing, pointing out that intolerance exists and she’s performing a brave act that shines a light on it.

    I, as well, would agree that she shouldn’t accuse the note-guy of vandalising her car, but I think there is still something of value in her project.

    I would simply disagree with you in not allowing her to call herself an activist. Filmmaker and possibly entrepreneur may be more central to her being, but this is an act of activism, however impure, maybe with a lower-case “a”. Conceding to you here, maybe she should shoud try to align her blog with this if they are in conflict. I don’t think it really pollutes the central message of the project as I understand it.

    I think you should try to frame your arguments more in that fashion, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

    It’s the egalitarian and anonymous nature of the Internet, that wherever you go on the Internet, you will encounter all levels of discourse (some people will take cheap shots rather than forming well-constructed arguments). Calling a whole group of people misogynists is just low discourse with a large vocabulary. Please try to keep the discourse elevated as you have in the past, but also try to articulate your issues and examine for yourself which ones are simply a coloring of her by past experiences.

    I might suggest that you just stop reading her blog. It seems to be causing a lot of distress. Personally, unless a blog is written by someone with some journalistic skills, I feel there is usually little of value in them. (As a graphic designer, I know you can give someone the newest version of Photoshop, but unless they have some design skills…) The same way not all TV shows are news programs, most are just entertainment, so change the channel. I’ll wait for the movie before I decide. If the movie is as self-involved as most amateur blogs, it probably won’t do very well anyway.

  17. npica says:

    Hello Rick, first of all, I want to set the record straight immediately on something that obviously was misunderstood. I must have failed to explain myself clearly when I mentioned misogyny. It was NOT my intention to say that all gay men are misogynists, NOT AT ALL. I was simply saying that those that responded in the way they did, with cheap shots that are typically also taken by straight men, are. However, you cannot deny that there is a strong element of mysogyny, particularly against dykes, present in the gay male community, but once again, not my intention to say that all gay men are woman-haters. As a community, we must recognize our flaws. Gay men, just like all the rest of us, are a product of a patriarchal and profoundly misogynistic society.

    You are probably right Rick, I should stop reading her blogs, as they don’t have any merit, but I had kept reading them as they are the main mouthpiece of her platform on the Web. Also, you make a good point when you say that if her documentary turns out to be as self-involved as her blogs, then it will probably get no credit. Thank you for continuing to be ethical and kind in your remarks to me and to others.

    However, though my personal knowledge of Erin certainly colors my comments to some degree, I would be here arguing the same things had I not ever even met her.

    Finally, I don’t think that Erin should take on all causes to be an effective activist, that would be impossible. I’m just saying that her approach needs to be informed by a minimal base of knowledge in the essential culture of oppressed peoples and their struggles, something that Erin is sorely lacking. In my humble opinion, that is absolutely necessary to be an effective activist. I mean, come on, don’t you have to know what you’re talking about to be in the arena? I mean, it’s just pure and simple common sense.

    I, like you, will be here waiting and watching to see her campaign unfurl and watch the documentary when it comes out. If that changes my mind, great!

  18. norika says:

    woo-wee I just had to jump in…i’m in albany, i’m a fagbug-hater…and i love this debate!

    as a “professional activist” i don’t discredit erin for trying to make a documentary, but i DO find fault with her claiming to represent the LGBTQ community without ever entering into a dialogue WITH the community about what WE think about hate crimes, and what WE think we can do to change them. That might have included going around the country, raising awareness and funds for local organizations, but by going off and claiming that she’s doing this campaign for the community, when in reality she’s all on her own, I don’t support her or the cause.

    I spend virtually all of my time working for LGBT rights, and I know that my organization could not just think up a project and thrust it on the community and expect to be funded and supported. We work with the community to identify those strategies and tactics that make sense FOR the community instead of just forcing campaigns down their throats…

    again, i think criticism is good, and not divisive, because it makes our community more representative of the diversity of opinions instead of one monolithic group (which we all know we aren’t)

    Grassroots Activism comes from the grassroots…plural…not one act of vandalism and a career goal. Call it what it is, if its an art project, and that’s great. Just don’t ask for my money or time to support your career. I work at a nonprofit, i barely have any 🙂

  19. MMJ says:

    Is she really forcing anything down anyone’s throat? It sounds as though she actually stands back and lets people form their own thoughts about the car. She’s not forcing people to buy stickers or t-shirts. She’s not forcing anyone to talk about their thoughts. And she’s not making anyone give her money. Just like the FOF…anyone can feel free to help the cause, or not.

  20. I love the direction this thread just took. I think it just got a lot more articulate and civil.

    I don’t doubt that there are some gay men that dismiss some lesbians out-of-hand as bitchy dykes, the same way there are some lesbians that dismiss some men out-of-hand simply for having penises or dismiss some gay men as silly, self-involved queens. Surely these people are in the minority. I don’t think any of us want to paint the picture with that brush.

    You do touch upon what I see as a much more important issue facing our “community” in that the only real community we have is that we’re fighting for some of the same rights for the same reasons. It is true that other than that, our communities have a long way to go in becoming more integrated with each other. It seems that will only happen through conscious effort on everyone’s part. We all seek out groups that most look like us. Lesbians like to hang out with lesbians, gay men like to hang out with gay men, m-to-f transgendered people with other m-to-f, f-to-m, twinks, leather daddies, you name it. Not there isn’t any cross-over, or desire to. We may have little social interest in each other’s groups, but we all have something to gain from banding together.

    It’s like the Democratic Party. To organize all the groups is like herding cats.

  21. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Erin is a leader and often leaders make decisions that don’t involve input from others. That is hee style and although it may be too unilateral for you, I don’t think its wrong. Erin has taken a public act that hurt her personally on the road to flush out the issue. In her documentary she is engaging people and

    entering into a dialogue WITH the community about what WE think about hate crimes, and what WE think we can do to change them.

    Whether you like it or not she is representing the community, or at least part of it. But, which gay leader was every elected to lead us? Certainly I don’t think the Log Cabin Republicans represent me well, but I’m not attacking them personally.

  22. Zulu says:

    Fantastic show guys. really loved it. As a straight white male here I will resist from making any “typical” comments. I just think that whatever the intentions behind this, as a piece of art this will be totally cool, as a way of raising awareness making a documentary and being on top podcasts (hear that Mr note writer, a top podcast) is a great way to get the subject out there. i live in the UK – when is the “FagBug” coming here? (Although legislation here may prevent this.)

    Phoning the guy up was brave, direct and really quite scary. Make sure Erin that you don’t get in contact alone – he sounded a bit creepy, almost as if his voice was disguised alittle.

    WQhatever the intentions, whoever makes money, this is performance art at its best! Look at the number of comments on the show to see how effective it is!

    As to not entering into dialogue with the GLBTQ community, isn’t this exactly what has been happening? Sometimes because legislation is in place and people become apathetic we can begin to believe that the bigots and the racists have all gone away but the ignorance is still there.

    Keep up the good work Erin!

  23. norika says:

    Hey Marc, and everyone.. just to clarify, while i don’t like fagbug, i have nothing against erin personally. I don’t know her. my issue is with her campaign, which i said i don’t support, not with her as a person. i think she’s misguided, yes, but i’m not attacking her…

    i’m a lover not a hater…

  24. I’m having a hard time understanding why you think she is misguided- is it because she didn’t ask the establishment for permission?

  25. npica says:

    Amen, norika!

    One more reason I hadn’t even thought of why I can’t get behind the Fagbug campaign!

  26. PupDon says:

    Wow, what a meaty discussion here. I know I’m a little late chiming in but here goes. I didn’t have a chance to read the whole thread just yet but I will be sure to when I get home from work. From the few posts I’ve read it seems like a lot of people are coming down on Erin for what she is or isn’t doing. Now, I understand that people might not agree with her methods and therefore choose not to support her, and that is our right as a people to make these kind of choices, but what I don’t understand is why people would go out of their way to discredit her. It’s like the people who protest gay pride or gay events. If you don’t like it, don’t come. But don’t we have enough to worry about with people from the outside trying to suppress our voices and beat us down at every turn? If you don’t support her then don’t, that’s fine, but why try to damage her reputation and make things even more difficult for her? I’d ask every person to think about going after something they believed strongly in, there are going to always be someone who doesn’t agree and will actually oppose what you are doing. Now think about all your efforts and energy going into something just to have one of those people right behind you trying to negate your whole vision. It’s just hateful, mean and hurtful. If you don’t like what Erin is doing then leave her alone.

    One other thing on the subject, people have said they don’t like this project because she’s making money off of it or that she hopes to sell the documentary. What about Michael Moore? His career is making documentaries. He has something to say and the only way he can do it to the best of his ability is to make it a full time job. He raises money through investors, he makes a profit from his movies and he goes out and makes more movies. Does that make what he has to say any less important?

    I think the attitude of that the guy who called into the show shows why this project is important. People turn a blind eye to this sort of thing. The idea of “something like this would never happen in Albany”, or any town for that matter, is why we run the risk of being harassed, beaten or even killed for being who we are. Too many people have this attitude of, “well, sure you’ve been hurt but clean up the mess so I don’t have to deal with it”, rather than confronting it and saying, “what can I do to help”. How many people saw it happening and didn’t do a thing to stop it because they couldn’t imagine someone would be that cruel? I live in LA, one of the most gay friendly places in the whole United States and one time I was standing outside a gay bar in Burbank when some people drove by and yelled “Faggot”. I wanted to yell back, “do you KNOW where you LIVE?” I mean, really. But it happens, even in gay friendly places it happens. There was a guy nearly beaten to death in West Hollywood, one of the gayest places in the world. And if we keep this shit quiet it gives power to the people who do these things.

  27. One more reason? And that is…??? i just want to know what is is specifically you don’t like about the fag bug campaign. We know you don’t like it. What concrete points can you make here? What would you prefer to see Erin do instead?

  28. Rheaah says:

    Well, the least I can say is that she’s not saying: ‘poor me’. It’s time out for women to stop being a victim to stuff past, present and future; whether straight, bi, gay or otherwise, and I’m sorry the lesbian women got it bad with the ‘poor me’ crap, and need to ‘quit that shit’, and learn from this woman!

    This is a real life example from Ronnie’s refrain: “FLIP THAT SHIT!” This lady really flipped it and turned it on its ass! We as a human species need to to a lot more ‘flippin’ shit’, and a lot less whining about shit.

  29. npica says:

    So, this is the latest development in my experience with Erin and Fagbug. Please note, none of this interaction was private(as in e-mail), so I’m deeming it ethical to post it. BTW, I am npica in this discussion, just to give you a context.

    I left Erin a comment to a blog in which she talks about several things, among them, her attempt to contact Fred Phelps, the bigoted, ignorant individual we all know, and meeting with anger and comtempt.

    Also, Erin asked me to be interviewed for her documentary, and I said no. I want no part of that.

    This is the sort of activist that Erin is. This is the sort of intellectual discourse that she wants to have with her critics. If we criticize her, then clearly we’re all lazy, mean people. If you wanna support this woman, go ahead. I like to choose my battles and campaigns more wisely.

    Judge for yourself.

    Natascia’s blog comment:

    You had never heard of Fred Phelps before this happened to your car? And you call yourself a LGBTQ activist? This is precisely what I am referring to, Erin, when I say that you should not call yourself an activist, which you are apparently very upset about. You know nothing about the LGBTQ cause and the intricate and complicated network of prejudice created by the patriarchy we live in to be an authority or an activist for this cause. The least you could do when taking on this sort of thing is inform yourself on the topic, out of respect and true devotion to it. Inform yourself on the laws, on the cultural framework that makes homophobia in our country possible, and all manner of other things. And why in the world would you even attempt to engage with Fred Phelps? He has no constructive or rational viewpoint to offer any GLBTQ cause or documentary or otherwise. Your blogs continue to show me that you have no idea what you’re talking about and that your heart is in the wrong place. If you had bothered to do a little research, you would now that no self-respecting LGBTQ activist actually engages with Fred Phelps because he has NOTHING to contribute, nothing rational or sensical anyway. Once again, you are demonstrating that you are in it for the wrong reasons. You probably want to interview him because of the shock value that he can offer your documentary. Once again you are showing me and others, and there are plenty of others like me, that you do not wish to make a thoughtful, informative, and rational documentary. Everyone and anyone that contacts Fred Phelps that does not hold his same opinions gets insulted in the same way you were.

    Excerpt from Erin’s subsequent blog that pertains to me and us Albany “naysayers”:

    To all of the petty Albany lesbians who are boycotting me or judging or criticizing me or trying to tear down what I am doing this is what I have to say about it…

    Get a life. Get off your ass and do something productive with your time and stop ridiculing me for trying to be out here doing something. Everyone wants to tell me how to do what I’m doing and gets mad that I don’t do it the way they want me to do it. I wish people would just respect that this is what I am doing. Perhaps they’d do it differently? I highly doubt that most of these people would have the balls to drive their car around if it was vandalized and the fact that I am driving it makes me an activist. I’m driving the car. I’m keeping it that way. And I have been an activist most of my adult life and have a resume 10 pages long of all the work I’ve done in the glbt community.

  30. I think you came down a bit hard on her. You have some salient points for her that I can agree with, but all delivered with an obvious over-current of hostility. What you present here shows an argument for naiveté and possibly some overstatement on her part, but I think your hostility is equally condemning of you.

    If she did contact Phelps for her documentary, and claims long experience in GLBT activism, she would have to expect it to result in pure shock value. If she really thought there was a good chance of having an intelligent exchange with him, that would seem to contradict having vast experience in GLBT activism.

    I’m willing to allow her space to learn about the issues on-the-job, and I still like the project. My first-hand experience, the podcast episode, didn’t lead me to believe she was claiming to be something she is not. However, if that were the case, I would find it a bit distasteful – I don’t fault people for trying to learn on-the-job as long as I feel they are being honest about it. You probably feel the same way.

    I think you are reacting to your own distaste, which I can understand, per previous, and that is causing you, possibly unconsciously, to react in a way that makes your critique take the form of an attack– it is coming from a place of aggression that only serves to provide you with some sort of basal gratification. Simply put, it’s intellectual masturbation and should be kept private. It needs to come from somewhere else in order to be useful. Unless you are willing to help inform her learning experience with critique constructed in a supportive way, in a way the tries to inform her of certain things that might make her more successful, you are simply attacking and can claim nothing more than that. Unless you are willing to converse with her the way you would a little sister (even if you don’t agree with that sister – you can still reserve the right to be skeptical), as I said before, you should stop reading the blog. It will only continue to create distress for both of you. You need to try to be part of the solution, or else remove yourself from the equation and focus your energies toward the other parts of your life where they can be a force for good.

    Right now you’re looking like two little kids squabbling and Mom has to either get you to make up or send both of you to your separate rooms.

    We need to be the change we want to see. We need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

    I think you have something of value to add, but you’ll probably have to swallow some pride, extend an olive branch, and start making your comments from a caring place that wants to show her how to be more successful. Short of that, there is no value in participation – it’s just the joy of being divisive.

  31. Fausto:

    I would prefer Erin to start a sister campaign with high recommendations for the ‘NAPPY HEADED HOE’ Herbie Campaign.

    She can park at girl’s basketball games, meet people that benefit from Section IX, and love teams sports. If she’s lucky, she can bask in hot showers and get a couple of great interviews. Strike while the iron is hott.


  32. What an amazing show! This was inspiring and it sounds like once the Movie is made that Movie can also circle the country. I think this reminds me of projects such as Tweekers Project and “Small Town Gay Bar.” If the Fag Bug Movie can share some knowledge, and share Tolerance for future people seems like a good enough message to me. I would love to see the Movie when it is done.

  33. Oh and as far as Fred Phelps…The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence interacted with him at the Modesto Gay Pride this year. Fred P had a booth in the pride fair grounds. The reason to react to and with someone like Fred Phelps is because he is not going to stop. If he is allowed to spread the hate then it makes sense to document that to show others how crazy he is. Truly not everyone in the world knows who he is, and it doesn’t hurt to remind others that hate still exists. I live in California…and I guess I am lucky to feel more or less accepted, but not everyone has this. CA seems more open to GLBT people than some other states.

  34. Hey Gracie,

    We’ve got a crazy Phelps-esque guy down here in San Diego by the name of J a m e s H a r t l i n e. Have you heard of him? He’s this crazy “ex-gay” that spent most of his life as an addict and criminal in-and-out of various prisons, making every incorrect choice a gay man could possibly make. He has AIDS and found Jesus and now leads a campaign against the San Diego gay community. He contends that there is a vast velvet conspiracy in San Diego to spread AIDS and corrupt the children. He’s got quite a local following and apparently has an online newsletter that is followed nationally, but luckily local civil leaders and clergy understand that he is just a nut and pay him no mind. (I distorted his name above because he’s just the kind of nut that would Google himself and harass the FoF’ers. From here on out, if anyone wants to refer to him, just call him Beetlejuice, or something.)

    Every year the SD city council declares pride week and honors local leaders, and this guy always shows up at the council chambers for public comment with his gang of nutjobs to spew all sorts of awful things about us. I went last year in solidarity of the rational portion of the human race, but it was still quite an awful thing to have to sit through.

  35. Jesus … could people be anymore petty.

    The anti-fagbug people need to get some better arguments. So Erin’s trying to launch her career … big fucking deal! There isn’t a single person out there that wouldn’t try to further their personal ambitions if the chance arose (I know I have). If she wants to try and make some money off of her personal endeavour then so be it … after all, she is doing it. Besides that, she says she hasn’t made money off of her efforts, why is it so hard to accept what she says?

    How is this not affecting social change? Regardless of who vandalized the car, conversation is started by touring with it. You may not realize it but raising awareness of an issue requires getting people to talk about it, which is what Erin is doing.

    As far as Erin not knowing who Fred Phelps was before this happened to her, why exactly would that disqualify her from being an activist? Are you aware of all of the thousands of anti-gay “preachers” in the world?

    That being said, I disagree with the pro-fagbug side as well. First off, it’s not fair to accuse the “graffiti expert” of being responsible for the tag because his handwriting looks similar. And second, it is wrong to be comparing Erin’s campaign to Matthew Shepard or any other such occurrence, especially in the joking manner that Fausto did. I respect that a hate crime is a hate crime regardless of the severity; but these young men are dead now, they don’t have the luxury of going on a national tour to raise awareness of homophobia. In many of the cases, these guys had been in or around a gay bar when they were targeted; the Bug was parked outside of a church. In the future, a little sensitivity to the fallen is needed.

    Also, in regards to the supposed “graffiti expert,” If you knew anything about street art you would know the difference between “graffiti” and “tagging” Graffiti is the more stylized, complex art that, in some cases, has been commissioned or given a special area to be produced. Tagging, on the other hand is a quick sprawling of a name or message specifically designed to vandalise. Tagging is typically the result of some punk that gets off on the adrenaline rush of breaking the law.

    This was a great show… It’s nice to have a serious tone once in a while.

  36. At the end of the day, my mom used to say to me:

    “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

    Unless the words are made out of giant stone boulders from outer space. Maybe then.

  37. Fausto! The Electric Company is my favorite! Where else can you get Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman and Spider-Man all in one place, set to a funk soundtrack! It must have somthing to do with the fact that it came out the year we were born! I loved it when they spoofed it on Family Guy.

  38. Maia says:

    I know I’m late to the party, but I loved this podcast and I wanted to send Erin a big “You go, girl!” from this lesbian, at least. I admire her for making this trip, and for making a film out of it. I look forward to seeing her documentary here in Chicago — maybe at Reeling, the gay & lesbian film festival?

    I think Erin is very brave. Hell, my partner and I haven’t even put our HRC sticker on our car because we’re a bit wary of what responses it might provoke on the South side of Chicago, or downstate IL, or Missouri, or Oklahoma… which are all places that we drive through on a regular basis. Although both of us are out at work and are engaged in the community here, we take advantage of the fact that it is very easy for us to slip into the closet when we find it convenient or safer to do so.

    I think it’s great that Erin’s story has inspired other people here to share their own similar experiences. I have really enjoyed reading all the comments here! Rick, you’re wonderful.

    Although norika objects to the Fagbug project because Erin didn’t vet her project with the LGBT community first, I think that Erin has definitely proven that her mission speaks to and FOR many of us here. We are voices of the LGBT community as well, and Erin has received quite a warm response on this comment board. By traveling around the country discussing anti-gay hate crimes, I understand that Erin is taking on the mantle of being a representative of the LGBT community. I think she is doing a fine job of it (especially the solidarity she shows when she takes ignorant guys to task for saying that lesbians are okay, but they hate gay men). But she is also traveling around as an individual, telling her own personal story. When she is done she will have a collection of other personal stories from people all over the US — and I think that is truly grassroots.

    Her detractors seem mean-spirited, not constructive. If you think Erin needs to more deeply appreciate the history of oppressed peoples in this country, why not send the girl a copy of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” for goodness sake, instead of attacking her with academic babble-speak? The one thing I can agree with them on is that it does seem inappropriate for her to blog about details of her relationship with her ex, if the ex asked Erin to respect her privacy.

    Erin is taking her message not only to the cities, but also to the rural towns, backroads, and front porches of America — specifically to those places where my partner and I are scared to drive with a gay-identified car. I applaud her for starting a discourse in these places, for sometimes even being the first openly gay person with whom these people have ever spoken. It’s a worthy cause, and an eye-opening project. I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary — I am sure I will learn a lot from it.

  39. ding says:

    I think this is one of the most exciting episodes I’ve heard. I thought it was a brave act to call the grafitti artist but it does show that FOF presents a balanced content and does not only show one side which is Erin’s. It was a little scary listening to him talk, it is a good thing that he is a geuine guy with some beliefs of his own. I appreciate the sincerity of Erin in fighting for her cause and in answering the fast questions.

    I realize, after listening to this episode , that the show needs a very short music or a cue to introduce the fast questions. Maybe like a horn sound or some music , like a fanfare.

  40. Justin says:

    Great episode!
    Very thought provoking. I think we, as a disenfranchised group, are not doing nearly as much as we should be doing for our rights.
    To quote Thom Hartmann, despair is not an option. Activism begins with you.
    Thank you very much for what you’re doing Erin, and watch your back. Better an activist than a martyr.

  41. NathanK says:

    I have to say that I love the discussion originating from this episode. Marc & Fausto have really done their job well. For that matter so has Erin. We can’t sweep the greater social issues under the rug and mask it with questions of the messenger’s integrity. Even if she did deface her own car, and I don’t believe she did, it has created something of greater value to society. What I see here is very similar to what is happening within our country; more precisely our current administration. We don’t like it, so let’s divert attention to something that doesn’t matter.

    I think most of the anti-fagbug sentiment is really related to personal issues that have nothing to do with the message Erin is trying to deliver. I think activism in this country has really been diluted, and a lot of people just figure some else will take care of it. That simply isn’t good enough. I applaud Erin for sending such a bold message and trying create a dialogue in our society.

  42. Did anything ever come of this? (Apart from touring the country and raising awareness etc) Did they find the person who did it?

    (I’m re-listening to old posts)

  43. Hey Brad, this is Erin of fagbug. So far no one has come forward and the police haven’t caught who did it. I did however end up meeting with Dan who left me the note blaming me for making it all up who was on air with me on this episode. I interviewed him and now we’re on civil terms with each other. To find out more about what happened on my trip check out my slideshow at:

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