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But I’m a Cheerleader

September 23, 2015

BIACThis is about `reparative therapy,’ the absurd notion that behaviour modification, homosexuals can be `cured’ of their `illness’ and groomed to take their place as fine, upstanding members of the heterosexual community. Certain `treatment centres’ dedicated to this dubious cause have even begun to spring up in areas around the country, modeling themselves after 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Megan’s `concerned’ parents, friends and boyfriend cart her off to True Directions, a treatment center tucked safely away in the country. In this bucolic setting, Megan and a group of other `deviants’ are put through the rigors of a 5-step therapy program which includes admitting their homosexuality, undergoing gender role playing and even `practicing’ man/woman sexual behaviour under the stern tutelage of the mistress of the place. In keeping with the near-surrealism of the subject matter, the centre is done up in an almost Montessori school motif, with bold coloujred walls and furniture somehow emphasizing the cold, inhuman sterility of the setting.

We see the girls being given instructions on how to use a vacuum cleaner, wear makeup and change diapers. The boys are instructed in the fine arts of wood chopping, throwing a football and fixing cars. These scenes work, in particular, not only for their comic effectiveness but their underlying poignancy, as these scared youngsters – many threatened with disownment by their parents if they don’t `straighten up’ – give it their all, against all hope, to truly change, to deny the very person their raging hormones are screaming at them to be.

The movie also manages to make the gay characters seem real and believable. Thanks to a superb cast, many of the teens emerge as touching, three-dimensional people rather than the cartoon characters that they might have become in a similar film of this kind – particularly when it would be so easy for them to become so in the face of the caricatures of parents and camp counselors who swirl around them in this highly stylized setting. Prime among these is Cathy Moriarty, brilliant as Mary, the prim and proper leader of the establishment, a woman whose righteous wrong-headedness the actress captures to a comic tee. In contrast, Rue Paul, out of drag for once, gives a superbly understated performance as an `ex-gay’ now working for the enemy. Among the teens, Lyonne and Clea DuVall, as the girl Megan falls in love with, are the obvious standouts. They turn these potentially cardboard comic characters into full-sized, instantly recognizable young women filled with yearning, confusion and a desire to both please others and be true to themselves.

Joel: I… I mean, you’re more than just a sissy. You’re nice and… and clean and smart… and sexy and firm and luscious and…

Andre: Excuse me! The last thing I need right now is some fruit who’s just proved himself straight tellin’ my ass how sexy I am!

Megan: Your parents didn’t stay very long.

Graham: Well, I imagine it gets uncomfortable sitting that long with a stick up your ass.

Joel: What about foreplay?

Mary: No! Foreplay is for sissies! Real men go in, unload and pull out!

Megan: Cheers are supposed to be simple, make people feel good.

Graham: Cheers make girls do stupid cartwheels. Orgasms make people feel good.

Andre: Congratulations, liars! You know who you are and you know who you want. Aint nothin’ gonna change that, shit!

Hilary: It’s really easy to be a prude when you’re not attracted to him, isn’t it?

Hilary: This is where we sleep, but there’s no inappropriate behavior allowed.

Megan: Inappropriate? Like swearing?

Graham: No, inappropriate like fucking.

Megan: I’m a homosexual! [shouting]

Megan: I’m a homosexual! I’m a homosexual! I’m a homosexual! Oh my god… they were right. I’m a homo.

Mary: Congratulations, Megan. You have just taken your first step in your true direction! [group therapy applauds then embraces her]

Megan: I’m a homosex… [cries]

Mary: Okay. Go on now. Don’t worry, Megan. It’s gonna be okay.

Megan: [drooling] No.

Mary: Here, put these on.

Megan: [sobbing] Oh my god… they were right. I’m a homo. Oh, my god!

Graham: You are who you are. The only trick is not getting caught!

Megan: How’d YOU end up here?

Graham: I got caught.

Mary: Ok, then, who’s left to report out their root? Andre?

Andre: Shit, Ms. Mary, I ain’t the only one who ain’t got no root.

Mary: Andre, we don’t use profanity or double negatives here at True Directions. Ok, who’s next? Megan!

Megan: Well, I’ve really been thinking but I just can’t think of anything.

Graham: I think our little Prom Queen is too afraid to disclose.

Megan: Oh, really? What’s your root, Graham?

Graham: We’re working on your issue here, not mine. You’re deflecting.

Mary: Actually, I think it might be a great idea for Megan to be reminded of your root, Graham.

Graham: My mother got married in pants. [group applauds]

Mary: All right, let’s see, uh, Dolph!

Dolph: Too many locker room showers with the varsity team.

Mary: Hilary?

Hilary: Um, all girl boarding school.

Mary: Sinead.

Sinead: I was born in France.

Mary: Clayton.

Clayton Dunn: My mom let me play in her pumps.

Jan: I like balls.

Mary: Why, thank you for that Jan. [group applauds]

Mary: Joel?

Joel: Traumatic… bris. So… yeah.

Andre: She’s just upset because the fish on her plate is the only kind she can eat.

Mary: [to Graham, after she caught her making out with Megan] It’s your choice: you can run off with Megan and turn into a raging bull-dyke, or you can do the simulation and graduate and lead a normal life.

Jan: I mean, everybody thinks I’m this big dyke because… ’cause I wear baggy pants, I play softball, and… and I’m not as pretty as other girls, but that doesn’t make me gay. I mean, I like guys. I can’t help it. I just want a big fat wiener up my…

Andre: Amen, sister.

Megan: I’m stuck on “5, 6, 7, 8, God is good…”

Graham: “God is straight!”

Megan: Hey, that’s good.

Mike: Boys! Don’t you see how sad and pathetic you all are? Always wanting something you can’t have. If I catch you looking at another man like that ever again, you’ll be watching sports… the whole weekend!

Lloyd: We’re just trying to provide you all with a balanced perspective, to see that there are options. In the end, it’s up to you whether you choose to live a…

Larry: Lie.

Lloyd: Whether you want to be who you are or keep it hidden is really more what we’re about.

Megan: So you run like, the underground homo railroad.

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From → Film, Sexuality

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