Marry Me However is a brief documentary about Orthodox men and women who have hidden their sexuality by entering cis-het marriages.
Before I dive into the film, I want to address something first. Reeling labels the screening as the US premiere. However, I know for a fact that this is not true. This film has certainly screened virtually for 2021 Eshel National Retreat. Moreover, Eshel lists a number of previous U.S. festival screenings on its website. As a note, the Reeling screening is sponsored by The Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest (aka Israel in Chicago).
What filmmaker Mordechai Vardi seeks to do with Marry Me However is made harder by the fact that this film is only an hour long. The runtime limits what any filmmaker is seeking to accomplish. You have to make room for Orthodox LGBTQ Jews while also allowing for rabbis to chime in with their thoughts. The rabbis that chime in are on very different sides of the Orthodox Jewish spectrum. This documentary focuses more so on the Orthodox community in Israel. You could certainly make a substantially different documentary with a focus on Orthodox LGBTQ Jews in America.
What led Vardi to make the film is that his daughters dated yeshiva boys who were also gay. He also has former students who came out of the closet and got divorced following their marriages. When cis-het women marry gay men and have children with them, it makes it harder to find a suitable spouse following a divorce. Orthodox communities should not force Orthodox Jewish gay men and lesbian into marriages that they shouldn’t be in. If anything, these rabbis should have compassion for one another.
The idea of gay men and lesbian women repressing their sexuality by entering into cis-het marriages is not uncommon. But among the Orthodox Jewish community, there are those who feel they are left with no choice. All you have to do is read the text in Leviticus. One line in particular when it comes to men sleeping with men. Interestingly enough, this same chapter is read across the world during the Torah Reading on Yom Kippur. But I digress. As we all know, this repression will come to a head at some point. What happens at this point? For one, if you’re in a marriage, the foundation starts crumbling down. Trust, honesty, and communication are keys to a healthy marriage. A marriage based on lies is unlikely to continue. Even when you think it will, chances are more than likely that it won’t.
Nobody should have to be stuck in a loveless marriage. What’s the point? I mean, all you’re doing is just having more kids to fulfill the mitzvah of being fruitful and multiplying. Nothing wrong with having children but there needs to be more than just having children for the sake of having children when you’re not even in love with your own husband or wife.
Speaking for myself, there’s certainly a documentary to be made about Orthodox transgender Jews–those of us who didn’t leave the Orthodox community anyway. Believe me, I have no shortage of stories both good and bad. While many of my friends have the option to go home to their families over the holidays, this option isn’t available to ,e. You don’t know the depression that comes with being told that yes, you can have meals at the rabbi’s house but no, you will not be allowed to daven in shul. It’s not a fun feeling to be told this and it’s the prime reason why I have not stepped foot in my hometown since moving in 2016. Transitioning genders to one’s true self is a completely different situation that having to hide in a loveless marriage because you’re gay or lesbian.
While the film could be longer, Marry Me However is effective at getting its message across.
DIRECTOR: Mordechai Vardi