When Philadelphians Rachel and Amanda decide to marry, the wedding of their dreams becomes an event few will forget. Not able to legally wed in their home state of Pennsylvania, they travel cross-country to Ames, Iowa, where they plan to declare their love in front of friends, family, and a film crew recording every glittery, spandex-draped minute of it. But at a time when same-sex marriages are viewed as political acts, and couples feel pressured to represent the entire LGBT community, will everyone get behind Amanda and Rachel’s colorful matrimony?
Directors Devin Gallagher and Allison Kole return to their native Pittsburgh to premiere Married In Spandex, a documentary about one couple’s offbeat journey down the aisle. After a whirlwind courtship, their subjects, the laid-back Amanda and spirited Rachel, plan to take their commitment to the next level, foregoing the conventional flowers and lace for gold lamé leotards and a ceremony overseen by outrageous lady rapper/gay wedding officiant, Leslie Hall. The move is met with surprise from their peers, but for mostly practical reasons – one friend, Elaine, cites “the timing and the speed” for her shock before later going on to explain her anti-marriage philosophy. As for family, the only sign of disapproval comes from Amanda’s father, who, when learning of the body-clinging bridal outfits, can only comment, “I don’t think anyone should be wearing spandex. Period.”
The cast of characters surrounding the event provide some insightful, though not overly preachy perspectives on the state of gay marriage rights and the people swept up in its politics. Amanda’s parents, Donna and Barry, give some of the best commentary, as their interviews inject moments both humorous and genuinely heartbreaking. When Donna recounts Amanda’s coming out, she breaks down in tears not over her daughter being gay, but over the challenges she knew the young woman would face. Those challenges reveal themselves later when it’s learned that Rachel’s family, who have yet to accept her lifestyle, chose not to attend the wedding.
Those looking for major conflict, however, will not find it here – despite their respective beliefs, everyone loves and supports the pairing, and even Amanda’s traditional grandma can later be seen hoofing it at the reception. Instead of becoming an agenda-heavy soapbox, Married In Spandex lets small moments in the couple’s life speak to the larger issues. But mostly, the film is a wedding video you actually want to watch, a small burst of positive energy in an atmosphere filled with hate and ignorance. And that’s something we can all celebrate.
Pittsburghers can watch Amanda and Rachel exchange their vows at 8 p.m. on Sept. 7th at the Hollywood Theater. The one-time event will feature live music from performers Eve Goodman and Heather Kropf, a short film, and raffles valued at nearly $1,000, including concert tickets from Stage AE, gift certificates to local businesses like Wigle Whiskey and Commonwealth Press, and more. Equality PA will also be on hand to answer any questions about the fight for marriage equality in the Keystone state. Admission is $7 in advance and for students with valid ID, $10 at the door.