Fagbug Nation by filmmaker-activist Erin Davies spreads a message of tolerance.
What does this country really think about LGBT rights? Watch Fagbug Nation to find out. The documentary, written, directed and filmed by Erin Davies, takes the viewer on a road trip across all 50 states, Hawaii and Alaska the final two, offering a window onto tolerance in this country, compiling cross-country interviews with ordinary folk who are drawn to the rainbow colored Volkswagen, and into conversation with Davies.
The bug itself was the subject of the 2009 Netflix documentary, Fagbug, and given a makeover by Davies after a year and many injuries including eggs, spit, a trashcan, and more graffiti, such as “Faggets and dikes need to die.”
Davies’ belief was that by taking the car on a nationwide tour, homophobia could be highlighted and addressed. Along the way, Davies receives hundreds of handwritten notes that are left on the car. She receives emails and messages that commend her, and others that condemn her, including an email that calls her “a self indulgent cunt” and “bottom feeder”.
Nevertheless, she persists, giving motivational speeches at 200 speaking events. Davies also interviews over 1,000 people: gay, bisexual, queer, pansexual, straight, allies; open-minded, tolerant, bigoted. Some people react to the Fagbug with with humor; others with outrage, anger, confusion. Davies makes sure to address every comment, including befriending a man who initially tweeted against the car, and ends up composing some music for the documentary.
The expense of car repairs, the isolation of many hours of driving alone, the separation for her wife Sonya Parrish, are all offset by the joy of meeting people who have been following Davies and Fagbug for 6 years; the relief at being welcomed by fellow LGBT activists; and the knowledge that the Fagbug is spreading a positive message. The stories of people Davies interviews—from Colorado to Kansas, Utah to South Dakota—are nothing short of inspiring.
These are the parents of gay children, and the children of gay parents, who experience everyday discrimination, and for whom a visit from the Fagbug is a godsend. Especially moving are the reactions of kids enchanted by the rainbow colored car, and kids like Mikey Burnett in Nebraska, who have already experienced discrimination and harassment as early as the fourth grade.
One interviewee looks forward to the day when a road trip like Davies’ is no longer necessary. But after watching Fagbug Nation, it seems that we’re not yet there. Roll on, activism!