Megan (Natasha Lyonne) is a sweet American girl next door who seems to have the perfect life – she’s a beloved cheerleader, her boyfriend, Jared (Bradnt Wille), is the handsome captain of the football team, and she is an excellent student. Although she is quite happy with her popularity in her suburban neighborhood and school, Megan does have a few “quirks” that others seem to be taken aback by – her bedroom and locker are filled with pictures of girls, she’s a fan of Melissa Etheridge’s music and she doesn’t quite enjoy kissing her boyfriend. As such, her friends and family become suspicious that she may be a lesbian and decide to contact the “ex-homosexual” Mike (RuPaul Charles) and organize an unexpected intervention.
This is how Megan comes into contact with True Directions, a conversion therapy camp where the young girl is supposed to become the new gay-gone-straight icon. Using a five-step program to revert “misfits” back to heterosexuality, the institution is run by the authoritarian Mary Brown (Cathy Moriarty), other youngsters looking for conversion and the woman’s allegedly straight son, Rock (Eddie Cibrian). But I’m A Cheerleader showcases Megan’s experience with the organization, as well as some of the practices and protocols employed in order to force its members to deny their own sexuality and suppress their urges. As part of the program, Megan is compelled to admit that she is a lesbian, which sends her on a downward spiral of fear, confusion and shame, as she was brought up in a religious household.
“A fittingly camp comedy for a film about a gay rehabilitation camp. However it’s a serious message wrapped in a light and funny film. Underrated.”
— Big Gay Picture Show
“The false life that the characters are striving for is reflected in the set and costume design in this film; candy colors dominate, and pink and blue are the two colors most everything is divided into.”
— Clayholio Watches Movies
“I expected a comedic but didactic retelling of Life’s Important Lessons: that we cannot hide from ourselves, and that personality (and, in this case, sexual orientation) cannot be learned. I was delighted to find, however, that But I’m A Cheerleader, while imparting that message, is an intelligent comedy and a touching love story, not merely a vehicle for a trite and political moral message.”
— Film Monthly
Did You Know?
The film came about when Jamie Babbit wanted to write an article on conversion therapy camps. However, she soon found that she would much rather direct than write so she hired Brian Peterson to create the script, offering him stacks of research on reparative therapy. Babbit also worked on the film together with her girlfriend and admits to being influenced by Barbie pop culture and films like Edward Scissorhands. The director also released another film entitled Addicted To Fresno (which also stars But I’m A Cheerleader’s main actress, Lyonne) in 2015. In Babbit’s own words, the film is about “untangling from your family bullshit” and depicts what it is like for someone who finally gets out of rehab. Review our Gay Themed Films Here