NO DRESS CODE REQUIRED: An Urgent Cry For Equality That Carries Intimacy
No Dress Code Required is a politically charged but impressively intimate look at one gay couple's fight for the right to marry.
As I was watching No Dress Code Required, I kept asking questions: Why? Why does it matter? Why are people devoting such energy into making sure two men, who are strangers to them, aren’t given the right to marry? If it’s not hurting anybody, why does it matter?
Frankly, up until the 2015 Supreme Court ruling that makes same-sex marriage a nationwide right in the United States, those are questions I would repeatedly ask myself. Even after the legalization of gay marriage, I still wonder why people are uncomfortable with the idea of two men or two women getting married if it isn’t hurting their lives in any way. No Dress Code Required serves as a reminder of the frustration I feel over the bigotry of some people but it also demonstrates the power of true love and is bound to inspire.
No Dress Code Required follows the case of two stylists from Baja California, Mexico, named Victor and Fernando who have been together for about a decade and decided to get married. But as they were preparing for their wedding, they repeatedly got denied the right to get married by the city council of their hometown of Mexicali and faced prejudice from a civilian organization known as the Association of Families in Baja California, Mexico.
Before they (*spoiler alert*) finally did get married, they were fighting for themselves. However, they started to think about other members of the Mexican LGBTQ+ community who also hoped to get married. Victor and Fernando, initially, only fought for themselves because they never wanted to be heroes and just wanted to be thought of as two ordinary people who wanted to get married. But by trying to come to the aide of others, it would strengthen their case.
Love And Loving
While I was watching No Dress Code Required, it reminded me very much of the film Loving, a biopic depicting the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple from Virginia who got arrested for their marriage back in 1967 and took their case to the federal Supreme Court. Who subsequently then gave the right for interracial couples to get married in all states.
Similarly to Victor and Fernando, the Lovings didn’t want to be portrayed as heroes and Loving is able to capture them as ordinary human beings by demonstrating their ordinary life as a couple without turning the film into a grandiose courtroom drama. However, because Loving focuses so much on the ordinary lives of the Lovings, it doesn’t possess the political urgency that No Dress Code Required does. Then again, No Dress Code Required is a documentary that is meant to make audiences open their eyes to a particular conflict that they probably wouldn’t have noticed had it not been brought onto the big screen. Its attempt to make audiences feel anger and the need to act is when Victor and Fernando confront the city council that repeatedly denies them the right to marry.
Even though No Dress Code Required is a documentary meant to demonstrate one side of a particular battle, in those moments where the city council keep handing Victor and Fernando rejection, you do feel like you want to keep asking them: why?, as they give their reasoning even if they may not give a proper answer. As previously mentioned, No Dress Code Required may be a piece of nonfiction but the couple is able to interestingly act as an audience surrogate the way sympathetic protagonists in a fictional film are.
Triumph and Trials
However, writer/director Cristina Herrera Borquez doesn’t just focus on the hardships of the battle at hand. She follows Victor and Fernando in their ordinary home life and shows their lovable chemistry. While their local government tries to violate their human rights and even civilians like the Association of Families try to make them out to be pariahs, Victor and Fernando still never lose sight of their love for one another. Their intimacy being shown allows No Dress Code Required to feel less heavy handed in spite of the subject matter being dealt with. Audiences do deserve to see the battle these two men fought before they won it but not everybody wants to see an hour and a half of tense courtroom scenes. So, it was relieving that Borquez chose to film and interview them in their home lives, to allow some levity and to show that they may be fighting for a strong cause but they are still just like any other couple.
In retrospect, seeing a couple fight for the right to marry in a country that still views same-sex marriage as an abnormality shows that we all still have ways to go in terms of the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. In the United States, we have seen milestones achieved like the 2015 legalization of same-sex marriage and the 2010 repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, which allowed discrimination against gay and lesbian soldiers. Also, in 2015, Ireland became the first country in history to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.
However, as No Dress Code Required shows, not every country has demonstrated the same level of progress. It is hard to tell whether or not it was Borquez’ intention to give certain viewers a newfound perspective. But regardless, it is admirable to see her demonstrate how there are more battles that still need to be won. Hopefully, those who watch the film that live in a country where same-sex marriage is made legal will feel fortunate that they’re able to exercise their basic human rights while also feeling sympathy for couples like Victor and Fernando, who live in a country where particular human rights are viewed as immoral.
No Dress Code Required: Conclusion
Ultimately, No Dress Code Required is a documentary that is powerful in its depiction of love and the prejudice that love eventually overcomes. Watching these two men stand by each other through thick and thin to eventually win their battle has me feeling hopeful that more battles like theirs can be won in the future.
Which LGBTQ+ drama is your favorite? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!
No Dress Code Required will be released in US theaters on November 3rd. There is currently no date for a UK release, for the release dates in your country see here.
“The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.” Read the Letter of Solidarity here. Make a donation to the legal fund here.