The passage of Proposition 8 in California on November 4th, 2008 was no doubt devastating to the LGBTQ community because it not only eliminated marriage equality in the state, but also enshrined discrimination into the California Constitution. However, what resulted from this voter-approved amendment was an awaking of epic proportions within the LGBTQ movement. Rallies and marches were planned out throughout the state and various equality organizations began to manifest themselves in the Golden State, including our sister organization the Latino Equality Alliance.
Inspired: The Voices Against Prop 8 is a film that documents that very movement and showcases individuals who decided to do something about the injustice of Proposition 8. In October of 2011 I was able to chat with the director of the film, Charlie Gage, as we explored details of Inspired, what went on in the mind of the creators, as well as the surprising and unexpected directions and emotions that took form during the creation of this documentary. All of which led to a very inspiring climax which has undoubtedly changed the lives of the numerous individuals involved.
CHARLIE GAGE: Well, I actually never planned on making a movie, but immediately following the passage of Prop 8 I had a friend visiting from Mexico City and I gave him the option of either hanging out in Long Beach or taking part one of the many anti-Prop 8 rallies. Honestly, I didn’t see any point to the rallies at first. The gay protests were planned in gay neighbors, to complain about how devastated we gays were because of it’s passage and I thought to myself, “Really, what’s the point? What kind of impact is this going to have?” Well, my friend chose to check out the rally in West Hollywood the very next day after the election and so I brought my $60 Samsung camera and I started recording everything. I was a bit blown away at the community’s response, and before I knew it I had footage from about 10 different rallies. At that point I got together with my friend Ian McIntosh and we decided to put a film together. We started bringing interviewees in, and started the meticulous process of cutting and combining the footage together. The whole process took about one and a half years.
AXG: The LGBTQ community in California was heavily impacted by the proposition and it triggered an emotional response never before seen in the state. Was it your and Ian’s plan to grab that emotion and showcase it in the film?
CG: During the making of the film we kinda dubbed it “the Prop 8 film not necessarily about Prop 8” because as far as the film goes, it shows how various people in the community were propelled into action and how some organizations got their start. The LGBT community had a civil right removed from them and some within the community went from sitting back, sipping on their martinis and letting HRC do all the work, to standing up and taking action. That’s where this film really focuses on… the individuals who stood up and decided to do something about having their marriage right eliminated from them.
AXG: In the film’s promotional material, you make the following statement: “Intimate interviews reveal the ways the movement comes together, and the subtle and not-so subtle ways it can be pulled apart from within.” Can you describe what you meant by this?
CG: When you make a documentary you don’t really know what you have until the end. You don’t have a script or story boards. The interviews you conduct with people pretty much drive you to where you wanna go and the racism issue within the gay community ended up being a huge subplot of the film. Our first interviewee stated there was a rift within the LGBT community between the east LA groups and the west LA groups, and everyone I interviewed pretty much corroborated that information. Looking back now, it’s kinda ridiculous to think that just because we’re gay that means we’re all going to get along. In reality, just because we’re gay doesn’t mean we’re not racist. The passage of Prop 8 forced many different groups from various parts of the LGBT community to come together and work towards a common goal of equality.
AXG: Prop 8 definitely initiated the wakening of a “sleeping giant” in California. If you could describe one emotion during the making of this film, what would it be and why?
CG: Well I’m not going to say ‘inspired’ because that’s a bit cheesy (laughs), but one emotion that really stood out was being ‘embarrassed.’ Making the film really opened me up to different elements I did not know existed, like the rift between the various neighborhoods and communities with the LGBT community. Luckily, because of the research and interviews that were conducted I was able to meet all kinds of people from every sector of the LGBT movement in SoCal. I was kind of in my own personal bubble living in Long Beach, and going to the Falcon bar, totally oblivious to what was going on. This film really opened my eyes to our community in ways I hadn’t imagined.
CG: Something I hope we can accomplish in this film is to get the word out there throughout the nation so others can see that the activism and passion that occurred in California can happen everywhere else as well. People have to work together so that there can be an impact in the LGBT Civil Rights movement. Divided we fail but together we can achieve anything.
(Please go to LatinoEqualityAlliance.com to read my full interview with Charlie Gage on the Latino Equality Alliance’s website.)
UPDATE: Inspired: The Voices Against Prop 8 has been selected to appear at the 2012 Awareness Film Festival in West Hollywood on May 4th. If you would like to attend please go to http://awarenessfestival.healoneworld.com/ for tickets.
Inspired recently won two awards at the VIFF! Vegas Indie Film Festival in Las Vegas. It took home the “Best LGBT Feature Film,” and “Best LGBT Documentary” awards.