This is a press release submitted to the Las Vegas Sun. It has not been verified or edited by the Sun.
Hate crimes event to feature N.Y. LGBT activist
Published on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 (1:27 p.m.)LAS VEGAS – Community leaders are coming together to talk about hate crimes in Las Vegas for an event featuring New York LGBT activist Erin Davies and her “fag bug” car. The event will include a diverse group of local leaders in a panel discussing hate crimes.
“This is about coming together and looking at hate crimes in a global way. So many communities face discrimination, bigotry, and hate crimes, why limit it to just one group? The root of hate is the same, no matter which community we are talking about,” said lead organizer Emmily Bristol, an award-winning journalist whose work can be seen on her syndicated blog, The Sin City Siren. “We hope that this event can be the beginning of an important discussion that needs to happen in our community.”
Called “NOH8 in Las Vegas,” the event is scheduled for 7 pm on Friday, April 19, at Northwest Community Church (located on the campus of First Christian Church), 101 S. Rancho Drive. The event is free and open to the public.
The event will be Erin Davies’ second trip to Las Vegas with her nationally recognized “fag bug” car. She visited Las Vegas in 2007, during her first cross-country trip in the VW bug that was vandalized with anti-gay hate speech on the national Day of Silence, an annual event marked by students remaining silent for a whole day to represent those silenced by acts of hate. She attributes the vandalism to a small rainbow sticker that she had on the car at the time. And as a struggling student, she had no choice but to drive the car to work the next day. When she went back to her car, she found dozens of notes, in which people showered her with concern and compassion for what had happened. It ignited the idea to take the car on the road and spur conversations about hate crimes.
“I wanted to get people talking, thinking. How does the car make you feel? Do you use those words? Would people change if they met someone face-to-face?” Davies said.
Filming footage along the way, Davies created a documentary, called simply, “fagbug,” which chronicles her trip and the sometimes intense, sometimes uncomfortable conversations the car inspired. At one point, Davies films a conversation with an anti-gay man, who confronts her about the car. In another scene, Davies interviews a young black man who was the victim of a hate crime. The documentary is available for rental on Netflix and to watch for free online via Hulu. While not required, event organizers encourage people to watch the movie ahead of time.
“Make it an event! Host a house party and discuss what comes up as you watch the film,” Bristol said.
The April 19th event will include a panel with community leaders discussing hate crimes. Slated to appear on the panel are Jane Heenan, a transgender rights activist and director of Gender Justice Nevada; Christina Hernandez, director of UNLV’s Jean Nidetch Women’s Center; Rabbi Shai Specht; Rev. Greg Davis of Northwest Community Church; and Howard Watts III, an organizer with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.
Northwest Community Church is a sponsor of the event. Part of the United Church of Christ, Northwest is an “open and affirming” church, meaning it is welcoming to the LGBTQ community. Rev. Greg Davis, himself a gay man, was a performer on the Strip before turning his life to God. Davis was immediately drawn to Erin Davies’ story.
“As a pastor in the United Church of Christ, I support the efforts of people like Erin Davies, who shed light on the problem of hate in our world, recognizing that acts of violence often begin in what seem to be insignificant ways,” Rev. Davis said. “Through Erin, the ‘insignificance’ of her vandalized car and her documentary, she has been able to reach thousands with her message of justice and mercy, which are core values of our church.”
For updates and more information, go to The Sin City Siren, www.sincitysiren.wordpress.com.
For more information about Erin Davies and the fag bug, go to www.fagbug.com.
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