Lesbian film: But I’m A Cheerleader (1999)

This film is a very silly satire that makes a point about gender roles and heteronormativity. I think you’ll either love it or hate it, and I can’t predict which it will be. The Wikipedia page about this film is excellent, and after reading it I feel like I don’t even have anything else to add, but here are my thoughts anyway.

I’m one of the ones who loves this film. It was directed by a lesbian and it’s definitely for a gay/lesbian audience. The satire works for me, and there is some good chemistry between the lesbian characters. Seventeen-year-old Megan is a cheerleader and a typically feminine girl whose family and friends realize she is a lesbian (even though Megan doesn’t realize it yet). They stage an intervention the way you do when someone is an alcoholic, and they send her off to a residential treatment center that “cures” homosexuality. The intervention is full of stereotypes about lesbians. For example, one of the items that proves she is a lesbian is that she’s a vegetarian, and her dad holds up tofu inside a ziploc bag like it’s an evidence bag in a crime. Like I said, it’s very silly. Then the treatment center is even sillier. It’s painted in very tacky, cartoonish bright pink and blue like a Barbie house, which represents the silliness of gender roles. The gay boys who are there are taught masculine activities like chopping wood and fixing cars, and the girls are taught to take care of dolls and do domestic chores. They do silly therapy activities to try to determine what made them gay and to try to become straight. It’s obviously not working even though they pretend it is, which is part of the satire.

Megan tries her best to become straight, not wanting to disappoint her parents, until a group of ex-ex-gays shows up at night to help them secretly sneak out and go to a gay bar. (Yes, that’s right—ex-ex-gays, meaning gay people who went to treatment to become straight and then became gay again.) Megan gets to see the alternative to what she is being taught, which is to accept her sexuality and live with it. She also falls for another lesbian in the program.

The depiction of gays and lesbians is very stereotyped, but in this film, that is exactly the point. We are meant to laugh at the cartoonish pink and blue and the boxes people are forced into. This film is for you if you like silly satire, but if you are sick to death of stereotypes you might just find it annoying.

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7 thoughts on “Lesbian film: But I’m A Cheerleader (1999)

  1. I have a friend who went through one of those programs. From his description, it would be hard to outdo the actual programs in adherence to stereotypes. He was once made to do a public confession for sitting with his legs crossed incorrectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE this movie! It’s so flippin funny. Kinda reminds me of a John Waters flick. I won’t say any more for the people who haven’t seen it but it’s got some pretty delicious treats in there for people who like these types of movies. Enjoy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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