Toms: The Complex World of Female Love, a new mini-documentary by Coconuts TV, takes viewers on a brief journey into the world of Thailand’s Tom community. Toms, which is short for tomboys, are a subset of Thailand’s LGBTQ community. Toms eschew most other labels, and for that, have a unique place in Thailand’s queer society. The Tom community has developed quite a fanbase, including a popular online presence, roles in films and a magazine devoted to women who love Toms. These women, often referred to as Dees, are the ultra femme counterparts to Toms. Tom/Dee relationships often adhere to strict stereotypical gender roles, with Toms taking on a protective and financially supportive role.
The film touches on how the word “lesbian,” which was introduced to Thailand in the ’70s, had a negative connotation and labels like Tom and Dee, which were created within the queer community, were adapted and have a much more positive connotation. The film follows two Toms, Zom and Am, as they participate in the Mr. Tom Act talent show.
This short film is a truly interesting look at the Tom culture, and Thai queer culture in general. While Toms and the queer community are not completely embraced by all in Thailand (or the world, for that matter), watching these Toms lauded and cheered for at the Mr. Tom Act competition is heartwarming and leaves you with a sense of hope that mindsets are changing for the better.