Amanda Kole and Rachel Turanski

By Nathan Lerner

Few social issues have proven more controversial than same-sex marriage. The matter has inspired a heated debate, replete with political implications.

As part of this year’s QFest, the evocatively-titled “Married in Spandex” addresses the volatile issue. Rather than attempting a comprehensive overview, the documentary focuses on a specific pair of lesbians, Amanda Kole and Rachel Turanski. The 20-something lovebirds from West Philly decide to get legally hitched. To achieve their goal, the couple heads to Iowa to tie the proverbial knot.

Mt. Airy filmmaker, Sharon Mullally, provided a pivotal contribution to “Married in Spandex.” She served as project advisor and editing consultant to the film. Mullally explained how she became involved with the film.

“My good friend, Melissa Thompson, is a wonderful producer, director and editor. She moved from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., a couple of years ago. She is the editor of ‘Married in Spandex’ and contacted me to ask if I’d be a post-production consultant for the project.”

(Running from July 7 to July 18, the 17th edition of Philadelphia QFest — Queer Festival — will screen 107 films about lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered issues. There will be 43 feature films, nine documentaries, and 55 short films — comedy, drama, documentaries, shorts, horror and thrillers from more than 28 countries.)

Mullally, who requested that her age not be mentioned (“Can you just say I’m a baby boomer?”), talked with Melissa and then met with (Producer/Co-Director) Allison Kole and (Co-Director) Devin Gallagher to discuss aspects of the production.

“For example, how many cameras to use to cover the wedding and how to get the best possible sound in that situation. I viewed a few rough cuts and gave the production team feedback.”

Mullally has worked primarily on social issue documentaries. “It’s the work that keeps me excited and gives me a sense of fulfillment. As an ‘out’ lesbian in Philadelphia, I was thrilled to be asked to work on ‘Married in Spandex.’ Rachel and Amanda are a wonderfully unique young couple. Their entertaining personal story opens up the dialogue inside and outside of the LGBTQ community about the debate around gay marriage.”

It’s always difficult to find funding for independent documentaries, Mullally explained, so the challenge is to create a film with the highest production values possible on a limited budget. “And ‘Married in Spandex’ looks and sounds great!” she insisted. “The entire production team, together with Rachel and Amanda, balanced the fun and quirky aspects of the film with the exploration of the controversial issue of gay marriage, and were able to maintain the sense of warmth created by this young couple and their family and friends.”

Mullally noted the changing attitudes towards same-sex marriage. “The passage of the gay marriage legislation in New York is an indication that the American public is much more accepting of gay marriage than in the past. It’s especially interesting in New York that the legislation was passed with support from Republicans in the state government.

“I just think that most straight Americans have realized that people they care about are gay, and it doesn’t make any sense to refuse them the benefits — personal, spiritual and financial — that are given to heterosexuals.”

By contrast, Mullally expressed disappointment about the direction of the gay marriage dispute here in Pennsylvania, “Isn’t Pennsylvania described as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between? Unfortunately our state is going backwards politically right now. Fearful people, who are uncomfortable with anything different than themselves, are pushing an agenda of continued discrimination. Things look pretty discouraging here right now.”

Regarding “Married in Spandex,” Mullally insisted that “it’s so much fun and is wonderful at showing different types of families and fostering the love that exists in spite of obstacles within these families. The characters are hilarious and very relatable. After spending time with them for 55 minutes on screen, I think most people would want to join in the wedding celebration…”

Mullally, who has lived in Mt. Airy and Germantown for most of her adult life, cannot say enough good things about her community. “It’s a beautiful area with wonderful houses, and in the last several years, there are lots more local amenities like restaurants, coffee shops and bookstores.

“I can get on the train and be in Center City in 20 minutes, and it’s a friendly, progressive area. I feel totally comfortable as an ‘out’ lesbian in this neighborhood, and I feel like there’s so much diversity here that people make fewer assumptions about who we are. That’s a good thing!”

For more information on QFest, visit www.qfest.com or call 267-765-9800; you can follow the festival on Twitter: @QFEST and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/qfestphilly. “Married in Spandex” will be shown on Saturday, July 16, 5:15  p.m., at the Ritz Bourse. All films will be screened at the Ritz East Theatre 1 and 2 and the Ritz at the Bourse.

Nathan Lerner, the Director of Davenport Communications, sees over 200 feature films a year. He welcomes feedback at culturevulture1@aol.com.