Film & TV

‘Yes or No’ tells the story queer women have lived through

Something that carries the same weight of disappointment among queer women is the phrase “I’m straight.” But in the “Yes or No” universe, our beloved Kim doesn’t think twice about falling for a blatantly obvious straight-passing woman.

“Yes or No” is a 2010 romantic-dramedy film directed by Sarasawadee Wongsompetch that paved the way for future lesbian films in Thailand. The popularity of the film resulted in two sequel movies, Wongsompetch returning to direct “Yes or No 2.”

Kim, a bashful agricultural student with a short pixie cut and a masculine appearance, becomes the new roommate of long-haired, tomboy antagonist Pie, who instantly disapproves of Kim the moment she meets her.

Cue the gay movie clichés: The getting acquainted montage, the flirting, the romantic tension that ignites fireworks and–surprise!–the guy who’s somehow involved in all of this that makes things more complicated than it already is.

Pie (left) found Kim (right) in a phone booth after she had stormed out during a fight. Later, Kim confesses her feelings towards Pie and then they both share an embrace.

These types of clichés aren’t exclusive to movies, however, and any woman who has ever ID’ed as anything but heterosexual will understand this experience. Throughout the movie, Kim reminds us about the innocence of being infatuated, even if the woman you’re heart-eyeing completely disregards the backbone of your existence.

What’s so compelling about women with obviously internalized homophobia that has us queer women falling head over heels for them, anyway?  To Kim, and probably to everyone else, it’s the gut-crushing hope that we’ll someday be “the one.”

And while Pie isn’t exactly heterosexual, her view on the world definitely is. “Yes or No 2” takes a long look into the dynamic the two have fallen into after a few years of dating, the relationship suffering due to Pie’s expectations being deeply rooted in heterosexism, settling on the notion that Kim should act like a man because she’s masculine.

The sequel follows Kim going off into the world without Pie for the first time since they got together, and she is soon faced with the reality that there are women out there who aren’t as homophobic as her girlfriend. Said woman is an agricultural student named Jam, who realizes she’s fallen in love with Kim a little later than she expected.

Despite the clear morality issues, the cheating subplot is still popular in Asian films and even more popular in Asian LGBTQ+ films. (Does the 2004 film “Butterfly” ring any bells?)

Kim continuously sacrifices so much of herself to save her relationship with Pie that you constantly end up feeling bad for her, and as infuriating as it is to watch a woman fall in love repeatedly with someone who hasn’t come to terms with their internalized homophobia, these movies reflect a part of culture that hasn’t directly been talked about a lot in society.

(Who could if you yourself had your heart broken by a straight or a straight-passing woman?)

And even though the two Wongsompetch-directed films have normalized queer representation in Thai films and media, there’s still a lot of improvement that needs to be done if we want to minimize the cheating subplots to zero.

“Yes or No” and “Yes or No 2” are both available to stream on Netflix.

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