Gay couples’ right to marry has increasingly gone global, but even in the two dozen or so countries (mostly in Europe and the Americas) where it’s legal, couples still find that acceptance within their communities can be elusive, as it was for two married Mexican men, Victor and Fernando, who run a beauty salon in Baja California.
Cristina Herrera Borquez’s elegant documentary No Dresscode Required is a masterful, layered story of commissar-crossed lovers. Mexico’s high court declared the denial of the marriage licenses to same-sex couples unconstitutional in 2010; the couple could have married in Mexico City, where licenses are more easily obtained, but they wanted to pave the way for gay marriage at home. Like many municipalities that have balked, their hometown, Mexicali, resorts to a Kafkaesque series of bureaucratic technicalities to skirt the ruling.
The film is a grueling legal and emotional saga. Borquez deftly weaves details of the legal case with the Victor’s and Fernando’s struggles as boys and young men, each from poor families surviving within Mexico’s Catholic, machismo culture. “You might see this fight as something happening from June until today, but that’s not true — that’s not true,” Victor insists. “It is a fight that I’ve fought since I knew I was gay, since that day a fight with life began.”
Victor and Fernando are strikingly photogenic; as a couple, they are luminous. Fernando doesn’t quite fulfill his childhood dream of throwing a bouquet at his wedding: After months and months of delay, the nuptials are slapdash — and supremely joyful.
No Dresscode Required
Directed by Cristina Herrera Borquez
Outsider Pictures and Strand Releasing
Opens November 3, Village East Cinema