This Butch Reviews “Yes Or No”

Well hey there, Queerland! Happy Day After Obama Said He Supports Gay Marriage And The Internet Exploded Into Rainbows And Tumblrs! Yes siree Bob, I’m feeling pretty good ‘n proud of my Prez. Sure, he needs to do more to keep supporting us and sure, we still have a lot of work ahead of us, and sure, words don’t mean as much as actions, but HOLY UNICORN CRAP, you guys – a sitting president just endorsed gay marriage. IN AN ELECTION YEAR. That’s fanfreakintastic enough to keep me positive right now (and to make me want to pull out my old “Obama Said Knock You Out” T-shirt from the ’08 race).

Yup, yesterday was a Gay Old Time, and I celebrated by seeing a Gay Not-So-Old Film. It’s LGBT Film Fest season here in Boston or, as I like to call it, the delicious multicultural appetizer before the ginormous main course of Pride. Mmm. The fest is a perfect opportunity to learn more about queer experiences around the world, and last night’s film was a gem. Yes Or No is the first lesbian movie out of Thailand and has a butch-femme theme to boot!

White tank tops: the universal lesbian language.


The film tells the story of Pie, a rather tightly-wound college student, who is distressed to find that her new roommate, Kim, is a tomboy – the Thai word for butch lesbian. Now, Pie is no stranger to Sapphic sisters, as her previous roommate was “lipstick lesbian” (according to the subtitles) Jane, whose tendencies for melodrama and hurling inanimate objects in fits of passion were a wee bit too much for Pie to handle. But Kim is a whole other kettle of gay fish (this movie is heavy on the fish imagery, BTW, because [“lesbians and fish” joke goes here]). With her Bieber hair and hipster jeans and love of video games, ukulele, botany, soup, and other random things that seem to annoy Pie, Kim is the sort of girl Pie’s mom warned her about, quite literally. As in, her mom is all like, “Yo, Pie, you know those girls who look like boys? They mad freak me out, girl. Better stay away from ’em.” (Note: Not a direct quote.) So Pie and Kim’s initial relationship is strained by the homophobe germs she caught from her mama and she does all kinds of crazy shit like make a red masking tape line down the middle of their room, because everybody knows that masking tape is impervious to gayness.

But not to suave butches wielding ukuleles next to IKEA furniture.

As time goes on, however, the two develop a working relationship, then a friendship, and then – well, here is where things get complicated. See, Pie doesn’t want to be crushing on a girl and also has a kinda-boyfriend named Van who has the exact personality of a slightly damp sack of flour. Kim is afraid to admit that she is a lesbian or a tomboy, even though she’s falling in love with Pie and everyone is like, “Come on, now – you’re wearing flannel and giving your handkerchiefs to pretty femmes in need.” Oh, right – the handkerchief. Kim has apparently been reading up on her Butch Is a Noun, because she offers her plaid hankie to Jane, who’s sobbing in class after a bad breakup. +10 butch points for Kim, but -10000 good idea points, because Jane immediately decides that Kim is the love of her life, despite not actually knowing her name. Thai lesbians: pretty much like lesbians everywhere else.

“Let’s adopt a family of orphaned cats and name them after the cast of Rent, and we can all move into a queer co-op in Jamaica Plain and raise organic arugula. I’m Jane, by the way.”

Oh, what tangled webs of Feelings we weave! Kim loves Pie, Van loves Pie, the fast forward button loves Van, Jane loves Kim, and Pie is shocked/terrified to find herself loving Kim. There’s all kind of grand romantic-if-extremely-cliché scenes involving running in the rain, kissing in the rain, meeting on park benches, candlelight serenades, adorably awkward picnics, and shopping for jellyfish (if I had a dime for every time a movie equated love and jellyfish, I would have a dime). There are also many lovable supporting characters, including Kim’s probably-a-dyke hippie aunt and the gruff butch dorm manager who observes Kim and Pie’s budding romance with an approving look. This movie is just really freaking cute, you guys. You may find yourself squealing with delight at some point, and that’s perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of.

“Wait, you got Melissa Ferrick lyrics tattooed here?

Yes Or No isn’t just a giant squeefest, though – there are some parts that are downright painful. When Kim overhears Pie’s mom telling Pie how disgusting she thinks tomboys are – “It’s a good thing you don’t look like that, or I would be dead” – I was reminded of my own mother and that wasn’t fun. And the heartbreak on screen when Pie couldn’t bring herself to admit her feelings out loud wasn’t fun either. But the movie is roughly 75% Adorable Babydyke Fun Times, so I promise I smiled far more than I cringed.

“I think I’ve finally perfected my fisting technique.”

All in all, I give Yes Or No two Buzz Cuts and Bustiers thumbs up. If this awesome movie comes to a film fest near you, see it – and if you can tell me where the heck I can buy this on DVD, please, help a brother out! Happy squeeing, dear readers.