The new indie film comedy, “Yes, God, Yes,” tells a compelling story about the pitfalls and joys of exploring sexuality as a young Catholic— featuring a lesbian character who helps the narrator accept and discover herself at a pivotal moment in the film.
Directed by Karen Maine, the movie follows a teenage narrator, Alice, who is entrenched in rumors surrounding her alleged sexual encounters with a boy at her Catholic high school. Following some of her sexual explorations, she attends a four-day religious retreat, “Kirkos,” vaguely modeled after the popular Kairos program, to attempt to rehabilitate her reputation.
John Dougherty notes in America magazine that “the film is less interested in skewering the retreat or Catholicism than it is with the hypocrisy of religious authorities.” Dougherty reports that the film imbues Alice with “vulnerability, humor and intelligence” as she explores the complicated relationship between her faith and her pubescent desires.
The film touches on Catholic issues around sexuality broadly but also features a lesbian character in what Ty Burr at the Boston Globe describes as “the film’s wisest and funniest scene.” Alice leaves the retreat to walk down the highway, coming across a roadside lesbian bar where she meets Gina, the lesbian ex-Catholic bar owner who delivers some sage advice to Alice.
The Advocate conducted an interview with Blackwell about her role as the lesbian bar owner, reporting:
“When I received the audition scenes for this film, it was clear that the role of Gina was a gem, and absolutely pivotal. . . . Natalia’s character witnesses so much hypocrisy throughout the film — all around her, what people say contradicts how they behave. Sometimes those contradictions are hilarious, and sometimes they’re excruciating. I love that with Gina, we finally get some sweet relief in the form of a character whose actions and words are in alignment. From the first time I read it, I was really moved by the depiction of this older woman being honest, direct, kind, and authentic with this younger woman. Superbonus: These two short scenes braided together my personal sentiments as a recovering Catholic and my teacherly desire to support people in their quest for freedom. I felt so grateful to play this part, to get to say those words and have them captured on film.”
Blackwell also emphasized how Gina helped the presumably straight Alice accept herself in the film, and how she hopes that this message of acceptance can extend to others, saying:
“At the end of the day, I hope that people will watch the film and hear the words that the character of Gina speaks and that those words bring them freedom, peace, and self-acceptance. . . . . I’m excited to work in more environments like this and to contribute to projects that foster even more diversity and inclusion. That’s the world I want to live in.”
The film “Yes, God, Yes,” highlights important issues relating to Catholicism, sexuality, and self-acceptance. Because the pivotal turning point towards Alice’s self-acceptance occurs during an encounter with an out and proud lesbian lapsed Catholic, the film illustrates the helpful role that LGBTQ Catholics (and LGBTQ former Catholics) can have in forming and educating the whole church towards a healthy and holistic attitude around sexuality. By having honest and vulnerable conversations about who we are, we can help others come to accept and love who they are.
—Madeline Foley, New Ways Ministry, August 18, 2020