Too often we mistake the whole idea of being gay as a choice. While gliding down one of the endless country highways in Montana while sitting in the passenger seat of the Fagbug, staring out at the rolling grass and the distant hills, this hit me: the choice isn’t whether or not to be gay, the choice is whether or not to be fabulous! Of course, “fabulous” can be defined however you like, it could mean throwing on your rainbow t-shirt and joining a pride parade, but I interpret it a different way. The idea of spending one’s life in the closet is terrifying. Can you imagine stunting who you’re suppose to be for your entire lifetime? I take my hats off to the brave women and men who venture forth (and out) knowing that what is on the other side has to be better, because then at least you are being yourself – free of the lies, free of the torment. They are choosing TO BE, to exist in this world in a positive, inspiring way. What Erin Davies has done by taking a small hate crime and turning it into a lifestyle is my perfect definition of fabulous. Fabulous is a life she has chosen. And because she has chosen this, each day she is alive is inspiring.
Day 2 – Tuesday, July 2nd:
Ever since reading “A River Runs Through It” when I was 12, I’ve always wanted to visit Missoula, MT. When we rolled into town I had this idea in my mind that we were gliding into a little protective bubble of love and acceptance since I’ve heard once or twice before that Missoula is a pretty “chill” place. We caught about 6 hours of sleep before getting up to start the second day of our journey. We had planned on leaving earlier than we did, alas, the joys of documentary film making never allow you to stay on schedule, I continued to learn. Before even leaving the parking lot of our motel, Erin had whipped out her camera and was doing an interview with the manager of the motel. The man was very accepting and seemed to fully support what we were doing. I can imagine him being a little startled initially when he pulled into the parking lot at work and saw that one of his guests had parked a flaming rainbow car in a spot for all to see.
By the time we had meandered around the downtown area and eaten breakfast at a diner, it was 9:30. Once we were on the road again, pushing into the beautiful mountains of Montana and leaving Missoula behind us, it hit me for the first time that the majority of people are rather accepting of extravagant things. And, again, the people who aren’t exactly down with the rainbow aren’t going to have much to say. Even in a potentially conservative part of the country, we were going to be OK. The drive through Montana was endless. It’s the fourth largest state, so driving from one end to the other in the course of a day is a bit of a daunting task. I remember looking at our GPS every so often and thinking that the little icon of our car had not moved at. The state is just so big and it takes a while to get through it. The scenery is nice though, I have to admit. For a while we found ourselves trading back and forth between beautiful, evergreen littered mountains that the road sliced right through and the as-far-as-the-eye-can-see kind of fields of brown grass that constantly have that ripple of wind pushing through them. The state was every bit as beautiful as I expected it to be. It was just daunting when the GPS would say something like: stay on this road (no turns necessary) for 485 miles!
It’s hard to contemplate how quiet some places in the world are. Another thing I had to get used to on our trek was hopping out of the car at a moments notice to film something. This usually involved Erin putting the car in reverse to prep for the shot. I found myself on the side of the road a little more often than I would have initially guessed, but I usually didn’t mind. While passing through Montana, we took advantage of a long stretch of endless grass land to get some shots of the little car driving through it. When I got out of the car with the camera and Erin went in reverse to prepare for the shot, I realized how quiet the area was. When the car was far enough away to not be heard anymore, all I could hear was the sound of the birds living in the grass. It was an awkward back and forth between the singing of birds and the total silence in between each verse. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a quiet like the silence that exists between the bird songs in the middle of Montana.
One thing people are not accepting of is when you get your car in between them and their cruise control. Whether we were trying to get a shot of the car in the middle of nowhere in Montana or on a blind turn on the hill heading to Mount Rushmore, people took no issue with laying on their horn and continuing to speed past us. I guess some people need to do a little more yoga and calm down. That being said, at first, I wasn’t the biggest fan of getting out of the car on busy highways, jumping over the guardrail and then watching Erin put the car in reverse on the shoulder of the highway in order to set up the shot, but eventually I got used to it. As a matter of fact, after a couple of times doing it, I started to see just how important it is to get exterior shots of the car. It will bring a different dimension to the movie. Here’s to hopping guard rails for the sake of cinema!
While driving through the hundreds of miles of beautiful nothing-ness, once in a while a random city would pop up out of no where. I mean it, all of a sudden there would be a small cluster of buildings on the horizon and then they would disappear just as suddenly. There wasn’t much warning that a city was approaching either – no suburbs, no outlying buildings. After passing through one of these little cities (I think it was Bozeman), we were in the left lane, passing a truck and I caught the last second of a gesture the driver was making at us. As we passed him, I turned to Erin and informed her that I was almost certain we had just been flipped off. Without skipping a beat, Erin told me to turn the camera on and film him. She slowed the car down in order to give him the chance to catch up and pass by us. I protested for a moment, but then realized that it’s important to get both sides of the story. I rolled my window down and stuck the camera out as the truck approached us a second time. This was the first time on the trip I was uncomfortable, I thought I was about to be yelled at by some jerk in a big ol’ truck. To my surprise though, the truck approached and then coasted alongside of us for a few seconds. The driver rolled down his window, stuck his head out as I filmed him, and screamed, “WHAT’S UP MAN!?!” And with a smile plastered across his face, he happily waved to me as the camera continued to roll and he became (at least) an unofficial part of “Fagbug Nation.” And there you have it, a potentially traumatizing moment actually ended up making my day.
The last stretch of Montana in particular really seemed to stretch on forever, but thankfully, even the biggest of states eventually run out of road and we found ourselves at the Wyoming border with the sunset upon us.
We crossed through the Northeastern corner of Wyoming for all of twenty minutes before getting to the border of South Dakota. Wyoming is one of my favorite states – it’s the least populated, filled with that Montana-esque “nothing-ness” and it is the setting for both the fictional “Brokeback Mountain” and the very real beginning of an instrumental figure in the gay rights movement, Matthew Shepard – who died in the town of Laramie.
Once into South Dakota, we only had to travel about an hour in the dark before finding ourselves in a touristy area outside of Mount Rushmore. Finding a motel was easy and I think we each got a few decent hours of sleep after the trek across Montana.
Just before leaving Montana and crossing into WY and SD, we found ourselves stopped at the front of a long line of cars waiting to be let through a one lane road that was under construction. The woman who was holding to stop sign, who could have been anyone under the sun, wandered over to the car and happily let us know her thoughts on the vehicle. “Oh, wow! Nice car! I’ve seen some neat bugs before, but never anything like this!” Of course, Erin’s natural response was to interview the bubbly woman. Would she drive a car like this? “Oh, heck yes I would!” Has she ever been married? “Nope.” Does she support gay marriage? “You bet I do, because I have lots of gay friends and all love is the same!” And there you have it, the day ended on a pretty good note.