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Gay marriage proposal dances into YouTube’s heart

NY lawyer surprises Israeli-American actor boyfriend with flash mob and Hebrew-inscribed ring

Renee Ghert-Zand is a reporter and feature writer for The Times of Israel.

Mark McDermott and Yuval David, stars of a marriage proposal video that went viral. (Courtesy)
Mark McDermott and Yuval David, stars of a marriage proposal video that went viral. (Courtesy)

A gay New York lawyer’s choreographed marriage proposal to his Israeli-American actor boyfriend has captured the heart of YouTube viewers.

With close to 600,000 hits since its posting on December 23, 2015, “Mark’s Romantic Proposal to Yuval” has clearly struck a chord.

The newly engaged Yuval David told The Times of Israel this week he is “completely in awe of the video going viral.” David is seen overcome with emotion in the video as he realizes that the dancers at Gansevoort Plaza in New York City on December 13 aren’t performing a routine to “Marry You” by Bruno Mars just for the fun of it. It turns out that his now-fiancé Mark McDermott had been planning this public proposal for months, and that David’s family had secretly been in on the surprise.

Born in Washington, DC, to Israeli parents, David attended school at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Maryland. His mother, Ziva, is a dancer and choreographer, and his father, Victor, is an aerospace engineer. His brother Ayal is a nuclear engineer with the US Navy.

The family is descended from Holocaust survivors on one side, and early Zionist pioneers who helped found the Israeli town of Kfar Saba on the other. As a child, David spent summer and winter holidays in Israel. However, these days, with his busy acting and producing schedule, he manages a visit only once a year.

“For the past few years, I go to Israel at least once a year, which does not feel, like, enough. Other than visiting Israel, I hope to eventually work more in Israel as an actor and host, and teaching my workshops there, too,” he said.

Although McDermott is Catholic, the couple are members of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York, and of Beit Chayim Chadashim in Los Angles. Both are well established LGBT synagogues.

Mark McDermott (left) and Yuval David show off their engagement rings. (Courtesy)
Mark McDermott (left) and Yuval David show off their engagement rings. (Courtesy)

The Hebrew inscription inside David’s engagement ring, which he read on camera, is from the biblical Song of Songs: “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li” (I am for my beloved and my beloved is for me).

“The inscription on our rings… is so very meaningful to us, as that is how we live and want to live our lives. We both identify with the concepts of being a mensch and tikkun olam… doing our part to live well, help others live well, and live with love,” explained David, noting that both he and his fiancé are well versed in religion and the Bible.

The couple, who met on the Internet dating site OKCupid, have yet to set their wedding date. Both men have friends and family spread across the US and the world and they are thinking of a destination wedding, which could serve as a vacation for everyone.

David calls McDermott “my bashert, my soul mate, and best friend.” Although he is taken aback by just how viral the surprise proposal video has gone, he is not surprised by people’s interest in it.

“This video is not only about two men in a gay relationship who now have the legal right to call each other ‘fiancé’ and get married. It shows two people in love. It is all about love,” he said.

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