On April 19, Erin Davies and her "Fagbug" will drive through Las Vegas to make a stop at Northwest Community Church United Church of Christ. In recognition of the National Day of Silence, Davies will share her experiences as a victim of anti-LGBT hate crimes and the efforts she has taken to stop them since her car was vandalized with discriminatory remarks six years ago. While National Day of Silence participants will be silent for the majority of the day, like Davies, the Rev. Greg Davis thinks the best way to really promote change is to start a conversation.
"What better way to break the National Day of Silence than to talk about these issues?" said Davis, pastor of Northwest Community Church UCC. "We wanted to do something tangible that brings to light how easy it is to hurt each other with our words and actions."
In 2007, Davies was a victim of a hate crime in Albany, N.Y. Because of a rainbow sticker on the back of her Volkswagen Beetle, someone spray-painted the words "fag" and "u r gay" on the driver's side window and hood of her car. Despite the initial shock and embarrassment, Davies decided to embrace the incident by leaving the graffiti on her car and embarking on a 58-day trip around the United States and Canada. Today, Davies continues the "Fagbug" mission to raise awareness and promote dialogue about hate crimes and homophobia.
During her talk at Northwest Community UCC, Davies will share portions of her film Fagbug that documents her cross-country trip. There will also be a guest panel featuring Davis, a Jewish rabbi, a representative from Gender Equality of Nevada and a local news anchor who will moderate an interfaith and intercommunity discussion about hate crimes and hate speech. A group will sing songs of social justice and awareness, and the audience will be encouraged to engage in meaningful conversation. The event is open to people of all ages within the community and Davis expects about 300 people to attend.
"The church needs to have more than just a presence," Davis says of supporting causes like the National Day of Silence. "I think it shows people that the label of 'Christian' can be something strong, and can be something that makes a difference not only in the heart, but that can morph into activism and how we play out what we say we believe."
The National Day of Silence is a day of action that encourages students across the country to vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effects of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. A program of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, the National Day of Silence was founded in 1996 and has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, and is recognized by more than 8,000 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across the country.
For more information about Erin Davies and her "Fagbug," visit her website.
For more information about the National Day or Silence or to get involved, visit the event's website.