Wednesday, November 1, 2017

NO DRESS CODE REQUIRED: Cristina Herrera Borquez's tracks Mexican same-sex marriage

Whatever any of us have had to go through to finalize our same-sex marriage, including, I suspect, even Americans who live in the South (remember Kentucky clerk Kim Davis?), our journey will probably pale when compared to that of Victor and Fernando, two guys who own a beauty salon in the Mexican state of Baja California and who want to get married, once the Supreme Court of the country of Mexico has given its imprimatur to same-sex matrimony. If only the city of Mexicali, where they plan to wed, could see its way clear to abide by Federal law. Good luck with that.

NO DRESS CODE REQUIRED (Etiqueta no rigurosa), the new documentary by Cristina Herrera Borquez (shown at left) follows this sweet and intelligent couple as it decides to wed and prepares for the upcoming nuptials. From the outset, these two guys make an adorable pair: They're fun and funny, and when the tide takes a turn for the deep and dark, they buckle down and fight. They are helped enormously by their two lawyers -- one gay, the other straight -- who not only know their legal stuff but are willing to go that extra mile not only often but, as it turns out, any time of the day or night. We should all have such fine men in our corner.

Ms Borquez's doc gives us a little history of the two guys -- Victor, above, is in the front seat, Fernando in the back -- their families and the manner in which each man dealt with his homosexuality and his understanding of it from early on. (One of their mothers asks only that her son not be the one in the wedding party who carries the bouquet.) We're there with them as they take the required "pre-marital education" course, in which they are told, "You have to invite God into the bedroom before you have sex."

Despite the Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex marriage is now legal, Mexicali's mayor, city clerk and other officials, as well as a good portion of the public, rejects this law. As one of these "officials" notes in passing, "They are only five men. They don't understand how so many more of us feel here in our city."

What these officials put our boys and their lawyers through, over and over again, will probably have you climbing the wall. It isn't simply shocking and indefensible, it is as obviously fraudulent, as well as mean-spirited and nasty, as you will find. (The post-wedding finale, as one of the lawyers muses aloud, is a must-see/hear. He quietly speaks volumes as to politics, history and what the fight for our rights really means -- and costs.)

I am not sure how many of us could take the same journey as did Victor and Fernando and see it through to the finish. But they, their lawyers, family and friends manage it, while keeping spirits as high as possible, which helps quell the anger that will keep popping up in viewers. There is a lengthy scene midway in the movie, detailing how local officials try to stymie the two marriage applicants, that is a keeper of sorts: a test case in how prejudice and injustice will use any and every means imaginable to stop what it so thoroughly hates.

Ms Borquez might have shown us a tad more dissension between our two heroes, just so we're reminded that they're human beings. Still, it is hard not to appreciate and love these two guys, as much for what they've been through as what they stand for. They're icons, all right, of Mexico and the gay rights movement, both of which they make proud.

From Outsider Pictures, No Dress Code Required opens theatrically in New York City at the Village East Cinema this Friday, November 3, with a limited national release to follow.

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