Sapphic Cinema: Yes or No, First Thai Lesbian Drama

Yes or No film review

There is no feeling quite like the delight of stumbling across a lesbian film you’d never heard of. And, thanks to streaming platforms like Netflix, it’s a joy we experience regularly. Though searching ‘lesbian’ on Netflix can be hit or miss, with straight films like Mr Roosevelt appearing as top results, you can find some gorgeous hidden gems this way. Including Yes or No, a butch/femme college romance set in Thailand.

Yes or No – originally Yak Rak Ko Rak Loei – is the first mainstream Thai lesbian film. Released in 2010, it also made history as the first Thai movie with a butch protagonist. As well as giving ground-breaking lesbian representation, Yes or No tells a warm and heartfelt story.

Prim and proper Pie (Sushar Manaying) doesn’t like her new roommate. Kim (Suppanad Jittaleela), she suspects, is a tom. So, Pie asks for yet another room transfer – which the college refuses. A rich girl from an upper-class family, Pie isn’t used to being told no. But Kim is charming as well as considerate – and handsome, as Pie’s friend Jane notices – traits which quickly win her over. And Pie is forced to confront her prejudices when she feels the sparks of attraction.

There’s a lot to like about Kim. She plays acoustic guitar and listens, really listens, to what Pie wants from life. Kim is chivalrous, handing out handkerchiefs to crying girls and offering to sleep on the floor so that Pie can take her bed. She’s also very kind, putting up with Pie’s endless drama and initial homophobia. In fact, it’s Kim that makes Yes or No compelling from the get go. To begin with, Pie is pretty insufferable. But her growth as a character – her courage in admitting that she’s a lesbian and daring to love Kim – offers a powerful redemption.

If fanfiction dot net was the gateway that led you to lesbian romance, I have good news for you. Yes or No features all of the old favorite tropes. Roommates fall in love. It starts out a love/hate relationship. There’s an awkward towel scene. For the most contrived of reasons, Kim and Pie end up sharing a bed. And there’s even a declaration of love in the rain that puts Pride and Prejudice to shame.

yes or no film kiss

Yes or No can be funny and light-hearted, but it’s also a film that isn’t afraid to go deep. As Kim and Pie come to terms with their sexuality, with their status as a couple, there are some painful reflections on how straight people see lesbians. These young women face the worry that everything they are, to themselves and each other, will be eclipsed by homophobia. There’s also a gentle lampooning of the subtle kind of homophobia that leads people to insist that two women who share a home, a bed, and all of their time together are just “friends.”

What makes Yes or No special is that it’s an authentic lesbian story. Director Sarasawadee Wongsompetch is herself a lesbian, and created this movie with the goal of showing what it’s like being gay in modern day Thailand. Wongsompetch even gave free copies of her film to Thai schools so that young people could see a positive story about a same-sex relationship.

For all these reasons and more, Yes or No is well worth a watch. It’s an adorable butch/femme romance. And an amazing source of lesbian representation.

Yes or No is now streaming on Netflix. You can also catch sequels Yes or No 2  and Yes or No 2.5 (!!)