Members of Idaho's “add the words” movement have spent the last eight years asking state lawmakers to make it illegal to fire or deny housing to people because of sexual orientation or gender identity. Now a new documentary called "Add The Words" explores the events of the 2014 legislative session when that protest movement turned into large-scale civil disobedience.
Filmmaker Michael Gough was watching the news last February when he saw 44 people arrested at Idaho’s Capitol building for blocking the entrance to the Senate chambers. The next day he got a call from his sometimes film collaborator Cammie Pavesic who had also seen the news.
“We went down [to the Capitol building] and just started filming everything we could get," Gough says. "But we had no idea at the time how big this thing was going to get.”
More than 100 people were arrested in several protests in February and March. The documentary highlights those arrests, including confrontations with lawmakers that triggered them. It also shows what was going on outside the Capitol, including planning and training sessions on civil disobedience.
“I had the camera as close as you can get to the action," Gough says. "We were in places that nobody has seen except for the people who were there.”
Gough says the sometimes eerily quiet protests where dozens stood like statues with hands over their mouths make for compelling visuals. But there are scenes that are not so quiet. For example the film's trailer shows a man berating one of the protesters inside the capitol building.
“There is no peace and love in your heart anywhere," the man shouts. "It cannot exist in you, because of what you do. You stand on violence. You know what? The rest of the state doesn’t want you around here, that’s why there aren’t those words and there won’t be those words.”
Gough says people have accused him of staging that confrontation with a hired actor. He says it really happened, and he just happened to be there.
“The elevator doors opened and I heard yelling and I just flipped that camera on and slowly eased my way into that action." Gough says. "I thought once I turned it on he would probably stop and leave but he didn’t, he just kept going. I had the wrong lens on. I had my color set up for outdoors. It was the worst shot of the whole movie from a technical standpoint.”
But it was powerful emotionally he says, because it demonstrates what the LGBT community has to endure sometimes even in the heart of Idaho’s capital city.
The documentary "Add The Words" plays Sunday night at 6:00 at Boise’s Egyptian Theater.
Find reporter Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam
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