Only on the surface is this a campy send-up of ex-gay reversion therapy. Underneath the cute and wacky plastic sheen is a horrifying story of abuse and homophobia where only the bravest sacrifice the comforts of home and family to win back their souls.Don't get me wrong, this is not any kind of dramatic tear-jerker. It's just so freaking spot-on about all the really lame ideas people have when they think homosexuality is wrong, bad, or can be cured that you'll want to run right out and burn effigies of Fred Phelps of "God Hates Fags" fame.
The Ex-gay movement has been a recent focus of attention in the gay community. Everyone knows its a pointless waste of time but there is a gross fascination with not only the people who want to "help" gays and lesbians become straight, but also the people who try to become straight.
When I went through a Born Again phase I tried to block out homosexual feelings but I always knew that I was gay and that God would always know I was gay too but since God's messengers came up with a bunch of really stupid rules and called it "service" and "worship", I was pretty much fucked and I may as well start picking out my spot in the lake of fire. It took me a while to get over that one. Now you'd think that this whole ex-gay thing would take the same perspective. It's almost Calvinist. Salvation is pre-determined. And all us poor schleps who are left with a void in our spiritual life and deep distrust of organized religion have to wander out into the lavender light and dance under the disco ball of our own glory while we figure it all out.
But enough of Christianity and Homosexuality. And I mean that in the most literal sense possible.
A Cheerleaders parents stage an intervention and send her to an ex-gay conversion camp called True Directions after her vegetarianism and Melissa Etheridge posters make them suspicious that her sexuality just might not be what God intended.
Some of the highlights include RuPaul Charles out of drag as the Boys' Masculinity Counselor wearing a T-Shirt proclaiming "Straight is Great" all the while lusting after the son of the Director of True Directions, who mercilessly tortures the inmates by parading his tight butt around in short-shorts.
But I'm a Cheerleader is fun to look at and painful to watch. The subtext is serious. The underdogs are the teenage victims of a repressive society scared to death of sexuality. All the usual machismo and hetero-sexist idealogies perpetrate on a group of colorful teens forced to examine the root cause of their homosexuality and subject themselves to a five step rehabilition program up to and including an episode of simulated sexual intercourse that would be humiliating if it wasn't filmed with so much camp.Wickedly funny satire disguising an acidic indictment of homophobia.