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Film / But I'm a Cheerleader

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Megan: I'm not like all of you. Everyone reads Cosmo, everyone looks at girls all the time.
Dolph: But you only assume that they're thinking what you're thinking when they look, but they're not.
(Flashback-Montage Realization)
Megan: (realizing) I thought everybody had those thoughts...

But I'm a Cheerleader is a 1999 comedy (although it wasn't theatrically released until 2000) lampooning the idea of homosexual reform camps with the story of Megan, a God-fearing cheerleader who has never paid her homosexual tendencies any thought until being sent to the True Directions camp. While there, she admits the homosexuality that everyone but her had apparently seen, and falls in love with another of the True Directions members, Graham. The film stars Mink Stole and Ru Paul (in a non-drag role).

The film carved out an unusual niche for itself as what many have identified as a Lighter and Softer version of a John Waters film, combining high camp, dark political comedy and good-natured romanticism under one improbably broad yet tantalizingly candy-colored roof.

The film has been adapted into a musical.

Not to be confused with But I'm a Cat Person.

Contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Graham's are the emotionally uncaring, neglectful type. They're also abusive in threatening to cut her off unless she becomes straight.
  • Activist-Fundamentalist Antics: After the kids are caught going to the Cocksucker, Mary has the kids picket Larry's house while Waving Signs Around with homophobic slurs and screaming about God.
  • Affably Evil: Mary Brown.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: At first, Graham seems to fit this trope to a T - a Deadpan Snarker, cynical brunette. As the plot and the character develops, Graham softens up.
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Jan, one of the girls at the ex-gay camp, is extremely butch, and has a mohawk and a mustache. In the end, she decides that she was never gay in the first place, and leaves. Many viewers interpret her as perhaps a trans man or genderqueer.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Joel is sent to the camp for liking boys, but seems to reciprocate Graham's supposed crush on him. However it's never made clear if he's lying to get through the program, the brainwashing got to him, or he's genuinely into her.
  • Anachronism Stew: No mention of a time period is ever given, but much of the decoration of Megan's home and the True Directions camp—not to mention the opening titles' font—are rooted in The '70s. However Megan has a Melissa Ethridge poster on her wall and Sinead has a style that would be very uncommon for that period, suggesting the film takes place in the 90's. Megan's parents drive an old-school station wagon, while the crashing of the graduation in the finale involves a more-modern Ford truck.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Megan delivers one to Graham through cheerleading.
    Megan: 1,2,3,4, I won't take no anymore. 5,6,7,8 - I want you to be my mate. 1,2,3,4 - you're the one that I adore. 5,6,7,8 - don't run from me cause this is fate.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Mike, a staff member at True Directions, calls himself "ex-gay". But his lingering stares at his boss's son indicate the "treatment" he's been through hasn't worked.
  • Blatant Lies: As Megan and Dolph goes to the graduation ceremony to rescue Graham and Clayton, Dolph says that he's doing it for Megan's sake, causing Megan to say "Yeah, right."
  • The Beard: Megan's boyfriend turns to be this when it's shown that she has been dating him for a while but she isn't interested in him romantically or sexually, let alone enjoy kissing him.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Megan and Graham during the first half of the film.
  • Big Bad: Mary J. Brown runs the camp.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Jan and Graham have it (the former especially, who sports a mohawk), which feeds into True Direction's belief that they aren't "gender conforming" and this made them lesbians. Ironically though, Jan is really straight.
  • Butch Lesbian: Subverted quite brilliantly with Jan, the most butch girl, who realizes that she's straight. Graham is however a "straight" example, though a soft butch.
  • Camp Gay: Andre. Although almost every single gay male is some amount of camp, except Larry, one of the 'ex-ex-gay' characters. Arguably the point is to demonstrate just how worthless the camp is. Also because it's funny.
  • Camp Straight: Inverted and gender flipped as Jan was just assumed to be lesbian because she has such a strong butch appearance, but she actually likes boys. She leaves the camp when she discovers this.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Well, duh. It's why they're at True Directions.
  • Casting Gag: Famous drag queen RuPaul, in one of his few film appearances out of makeup, plays the parodically manly "ex-gay" Mike.
  • Chore Character Exploration: Graham and Megan get to know each other better while washing dishes together, establishing their roles in the social hierarchies prior to True Directions.
  • Closet Key: Each of the characters share their story during a group therapy session of what made them realize they were gay.
    • Graham: Her birth mother got married in pants, implying that her mother is also secretly lesbian and her being gay is partially genetic.
    • Dolph: He spent enough time watching other boys in the locker room between varsity games that he realized his attraction was more than mere curiosity.
    • Hilary: Went to a One-Gender School.
    • Sinead: Was born in France.
    • Clayton: His mother let him play in her pumps.
    • Joel: He cites a "traumatic bris," implying that his circumcision ceremony when he was barely a week old was enough for him to realize he was gay.
    • Jan: Subverted in that her only admittance is she likes "balls," implying that she is really straight and her tomboyish nature has merely confused others and herself into thinking she's gay.
    • Ironically, the gay conversion camp itself helps Megan finally realize she is a lesbian, upon her finally reflecting on all the stereotypically gay hints she was putting off, such as not liking kissing her boyfriend, keeping pictures of girls in her locker, and thinking about other women's bodies when bathing.
  • Coming Straight Story: Played straight with Jan who is mistaken for being LGBT+ but actually identifies as straight and is just really androgynous. Averted with Megan who eventually realizes after much thinking that she is a lesbian after all.
  • Clueless Aesop: While the film obviously had good intentions, critics from both LGBT and mainstream media have noted that it was too stereotypical. The boys running in particular is ridiculous; no-one runs like that, especially not if they're running for their lives to avoid a hatchet falling on them.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: A strong theme throughout the film. Aside from the Pink Girl, Blue Boy enforced at the camp, everyone at Megan's school dressed in dark browns (including her parents) except for her, who stood out in pale yellow, showing right from the start how much she stood out.
  • Coming Straight Story:
    • Jan, who has been sent to "True Directions" camp in But I'm a Cheerleader "comes out" as straight after a while, complaining that her parents just assumed she was a lesbian because she's tomboyish.
    • Subverted with the lead. Her family and friends send her to the camp because they think she's lesbian (with all their reasonings being humorously outlandish). Megan, however, is sure she's really straight and she even had a boyfriend. Being at the camp, however, makes her realize she actually is lesbian.
  • Condescending Compassion: This idea underlies film's setup, starting with the intervention confrontation at the start of the film. Megan comes home from school to be confronted by her parents, her boyfriend, some of her female friends and Mike, a self-described ex-gay staffer from True Directions. On her arrival at True Directions, Megan is put through an intense session led by camp director Mary, who strives to break down Megan's insistence that she isn't actually a lesbian and her presence there is a mistake. Megan is actually reduced to tears by the end of the session. It becomes clear that Mary thinks True Directions' program is attempting "therapeutic" intervention.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    Mike: Boys! I ever catch you looking at a man like that again, you'll be watching sports all weekend!
  • Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Before ending up at True Directions, Megan was a popular cheerleader, while Graham seems to have a Friendless Background. They start off hating each other, but become friends and then lovers. Of course, these social distinctions matter less in a place like True Directions.
  • Credits Montage: The credits sequence shows a few brief clips of each actor before showing their name. Amusingly, the actor playing Megan's boyfriend's segment begins with a Gross-Up Close-Up of him trying to kiss her.
  • Cure Your Gays. The plot of the film, in fact. It doesn't succeed.
  • The Cutie: Megan.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Gender-inverted with Rocky and Mary. He's pretty clearly gay, and he goes out of his way to tease Mike and the other boys, while she constantly tells him to act more masculine.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Graham.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: For both Megan and Graham, if they fail to graduate, both of their parents have stated that they will not be welcome in their respective households, essentially to leave two minors in high school to be forced to live on the streets. By the end of the movie, Megan's parents have learned their lesson, even attending a pro-gay & lesbian support group.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Megan, when she tries to prove she is straight, only to look back at the obvious signs and realize that she is a lesbian. As she puts it, "I thought everybody had those thoughts...".
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Megan, when she does the math (doesn't like kissing her boyfriend, accidentally touches cheerleaders in different places, etc.) and realizes everyone is right; she is a lesbian.
    Megan: Oh my god... they were right! I'm a homo!
  • Everything's Better with Rainbows:
    • Dolph's pajamas are a sight to behold.
    • Heck, Lloyd and Larry's entire house is festooned with this trope!
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Graham's father uses the f-slur to refer to Andre, Mary is quick to call him out for the language, despite being perfectly happy to put that slur on a big sign later.
  • Female Gaze: The opening sequence, and then the shots interspersed in the scene of Megan kissing her boyfriend, are basically one long series of this from her perspective. Of course, since the female in question is a lesbian, the shots are of scantily-clad cheerleaders with bouncing breasts and copious Panty Shots.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: In the video Megan watches on arriving at True Directions, the girl is described as "rediscovering her femininity" over a shot of her cooking.
  • Flying Under the Gaydar: What actually happens at True Directions. The camp doesn't make anyone straight, it just trains the attendees to pretend to be straight while under the supervision of the camp. The film is full of instances of characters completely failing at this, most notably when the boys try to act macho while playing sports or chopping wood, but instead act more camp than ever.
  • Freudian Excuse: Mary attempts to force Megan into believing she has one by saying that she has no respect for men due to her mother being the breadwinner for nine months while her father was unemployed. Megan doesn't really believe this has anything to do with her homosexuality.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Graham.
  • Gender Nonconforming Equals Gay: The 'ungaying' process by the Anti-Gay Camp True Directions invokes this trope by focusing mainly on trying to get the characters to fulfil traditional gender roles. This is especially mystifying for Megan, who is femme but gay and Jan, who is butch but straight. Similarly, Dolph, a varsity wrestler, is pretty 'masculine' to begin with but somehow the camp seems to suggest that by becoming even more masculine, he'll magically stop being gay.
  • Get Back in the Closet: A fluffy, lighthearted, upbeat comedy with no explicit nudity and little harsh language... rated NC-17 by the MPAA. Go figure.
  • Gilligan Cut: This:
    Megan: There is no way I'm going.
    (Cut to shot of Megan in a moving car)
  • Girls with Moustaches: Jan has a moustache.
  • Girly Run: When playing football, Andre tries to get the ball in an exaggerated version of this trope, swaying his hips and flailing his arms as he runs.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Megan starts the film deeply in denial about her homosexuality, but the counselors at True Directions go to great lengths to convince her to acknowledge her sexuality so that they can help her "overcome" it. With their help, she does finally admit that she's gay—and decides that she'd like to stay that way.
  • Grammar Nazi: Mary
    Andre: Shit, Miss Mary, I ain't the only one who don't got no root.
    Mary: Andre, we don't use profanity or double negatives here at True Directions.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Megan never says a swear any harsher than "Screw you," and she continues to wear her cross necklace throughout the entire film.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: Megan getting angry over Graham dancing with Sinead is the impetus for them both admitting they have feelings for each other.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It's implied that Sinead has a thing for Graham and is jealous of Megan.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Megan. Beautiful, young, sheltered Christian who is determined to see the good in everyone.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Of course.
    Graham: You're really manly.
    Joel: Thanks.
    Graham: I like that. Manly is good.
    Joel: I feel like the aggressor.
  • Henpecked Husband: Megan's dad used to be unemployed for a time and his wife supported the family then. Mary is quick to jump at this example of "abnormality" and elaborate it into an absurd story of "dad losing his masculinity and Megan developing contempt for him and emulating The Mom Acting Like The Dad". But it's subtly hinted this trope is in play nonetheless: Megan's mother is the leading force in the parent's front of expressing homophobia and threatening their daughter and in the last scene it's the dad who is shown to be more open to accepting Megan's homosexuality.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Mary.
  • Hypocrite: Mary Brown accepts the reveal that Megan's mother temporarily took on the role of breadwinner for the family as the root cause of Megan's lesbianism that she seeks to "cure" her from, while Mary herself owns and runs the for-profit Cure Your Gays camp. The fact she's implied to be a working single mother to Mike also conflicts with the very restrictive gender roles the camp is trying to enforce into the kids in their care.
  • I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: Mike occasionally has this effect on the boys.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Megan and a few of the others. Averted by Graham.
  • IKEA Erotica:
    Mary: When it's time for lovemaking, Dan kisses Sue, and touches her breast. Women often find this sensation pleasurable.
    • "Foreplay is for sissies! Real men go in, unload, and pull out!"
  • Incompatible Orientation: Megan with her football jock boyfriend.
  • The Ingenue: Megan, although it's implied that her pureness stems from her lack of attraction to guys and repression of her attraction to girls - while she stays wonderfully kind and optimistic throughout the movie, she becomes a lot less 'pure' in the traditional sense as her relationship with Graham develops.
  • Innocent Innuendo: While teaching the girls how to clean, Mary guides Jan in thrusting a vacuum cleaner forwards and backward while repeating "in and out and in and out". She doesn't notice anything unusual about the movement but the other girls sure do. Similarly, Mike works on a car with legs and crotch on full display, also repeating "in and out"...and then asks the boys "Who wants to go down with me?" Almost all raise their hands.
  • Inspiration Nod: The whole film feels a lot like a John Waters movie, and indeed Mink Stole, a member of a group of stock actors Waters usually uses in his films, plays the main character's mother.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: The gay bar 'Cocksucker'. It's quite amusing to watch the more straight-laced characters trying to force themselves to say it.
  • Internalized Categorism: Most of the gay characters fall into this at least at some point, but Mike in particular counts, having embraced his status as an 'ex-gay' enough to be working at a camp for turning people straight.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Graham's parents found out that she was gay when they walked in on her with her friend. Also, at one point when Megan leaves the bedroom to masturbate after a dream about Graham, she happens upon two of the guys making out.
  • Irony: If Megan's parents hadn't sent her to the camp, she likely would've gotten married to a man and had children, either never realizing her lesbianism due to the justifications she already had in place or eventually realising it but deciding to continue presenting as heterosexual; most likely, she'd have been miserable. Because they wanted that life for her, they sent her there, and instead, she thankfully emerged as a happy woman who embraced her lesbianism and who would hopefully have a truly fulfilling life. Also, the one thing that Megan cites as being evidence above all that she's a 'normal' girl, her being a cheerleader, actually forms the main outlet of her latent attraction to girls.
  • Jobless Parent Drama: The kids at True Directions are encouraged to "Find their Root", the Freudian "reason" why they have gay attractions. The only thing Megan can come up with is that her father lost his job when she was younger and her mother was a sole earner for nine months, which the True Directions people think exposed her to inverted gender roles and made her a lesbian. Megan doesn't really agree, though.
  • Karma Houdini: Several people in the film, especially Megan and Graham’s parents and Mary Brown.
    • Megan’s parents send her to a conversion camp in the hopes of making her “straight” again and immediately disown her when they find out that she is staying a lesbian. They receive no repercussions for their treatment of Megan other than the assurance that their plans have backfired.
    • Graham’s parents also get away with their treatment of their daughter alongside gaslighting her into continuing the program by threatening to take away her college funds.
    • Mary Brown gets away with not only ruining a lot of children’s lives by forcing them through conversion but also making homophobic protests towards other gay people and having her students picket and pelt rocks at others.
  • Lesbian Jock:
    • The film has Jan, a softball player who says "I like balls" when asked for the root of her homosexuality, although she later turns out to be straight. She's just a really, really butch straight girl.
    • Conversely, there's Megan, who uses the fact that she's a cheerleader as proof of her heterosexuality, but she actually realises that she is a lesbian.
  • LGBT Awakening: Megan's parents and The True Directions accuse Megan of being a lesbian. However after such accusations, much thinking and conversion therapy did Megan come to realize that she actually is a lesbian but she just didn't know it yet.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Megan. In the credits they actually have Julie Delpy (the girl at the gay bar who asks Megan to dance) listed as "Lipstick Lesbian".
  • Love Triangle: It's subtle, but present: Sinead has the hots for Graham and starts feeling her up at the gay bar, but Graham denies feeling that way about her and hooks up with Megan soon afterwards. Sinead spots them and becomes jealous and standoffish. All but explicitly confirmed when Megan is kicked out of the camp after sleeping with Graham, as Sinead - who was previously the most aggressively against Megan telling on Dolph and Clayton, is suddenly the one most likely to have told Mary, as she was the only one who knew Megan and Graham were together.
  • Male Gaze: Mike is visibly ogling Rocky in his power vest and tight short shorts.
  • Manly Gay: Rock veers between this and Camp Gay.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: When pressed to find a 'root' for her homosexuality, Megan hesitantly wonders whether the period where her mother was working and her father took care of the house confused her ideas about the proper roles of men and women. It didn't last very long, though, and her parents are otherwise traditional - Mary still leaped on the idea, though.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Megan is explicitly shown doing this, with her hand just out of frame. It can be inferred that Sinead does this too, but differently (the campers are given small tasers that emit small shocks, and you're supposed to shock yourself if you ever have 'impure thoughts.' When Sinead introduced herself, she said she liked pain, and she shocks herself on purpose.)
  • Men Are Uncultured: Boys are discouraged to drink decently and care about the woman's pleasure during intercourse.
  • Mentor in Queerness: Lloyd and Larry are an older gay couple who met at the camp. They help sneak the characters out of the camp and into the local gay bar, and generally introduce the kids to what life is like as an out person.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Jan is actually straight and likes boys, but due to her short hair, love of sports and extremely baggy clothes, everyone incorrectly assumes she's gay due to old stereotypes about how only gay women like traditionally masculine activities or dress that way.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The 'ex-gays' Mike and Rock are absolutely gorgeous, wear fanservice-y outfits (possibly to make them appealing to the girls) and seem to be attracted to each other. It's an absolutely great idea to parade them in front of hormone-addled teenage boys whom you're trying to discourage from being gay.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Megan's parents are convinced that Megan is a lesbian, even though she doesn't believe herself to be, so they send her to True Directions for reprogramming so that she can be entirely heterosexual. But when the camp director insists to Megan that she is actually lesbian, Megan realises that it's true, becomes quite at ease with her own sexuality and indeed gets a romantic happy ending with the girl of her choice, while her parents end up attending classes to help them come to terms with their daughter's sexuality.
  • No Bisexuals: Several of the characters are gays and lesbians sent to a camp by their disapproving parents to be "cured". During one of the trials, a gay boy is forced to undergo forced kissing with Graham while a woman tries to gaslight them with heterosexual thoughts and attraction towards each other. Graham is repulsed but the gay boy really seems into the kiss. Interestingly, it's only gay boys and lesbian girls being cured while there is no bisexuals in site.
    • Justified in that the people running the camp can hardly considered to be experts on homosexuality and many such people flat-out deny the existence of bisexuality. Some of the boys and girls may be bisexual, but the camp simply does not acknowledge the possibility.
  • Oh, Crap!: Megan, when she does the math in her head and realizes that she really is a lesbian.
  • Of Corsets Sexy: The girls wear purples while they give each other makeovers.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Megan, as she stumbles over her words and, looking back at the signs prior to conversion camp, realizing that she is indeed a lesbian. She says it over and over again "I'm a homosexual!" with tears in her eyes.
  • One Head Taller: Larry and Lloyd.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Taken to hilarious extremes, as basically everything is that color for the boys and girls. This includes painting the windows of a car blue.
  • The Pollyanna: Megan is always cheerful and has a positive outlook on everything in the midst of hardship.
  • Preppy Name: Graham, who fittingly comes from a wealthy and unloving family.
  • Performance Artist: Andre, the most Camp Gay of all the male campers, is an actor and a very skilled dancer.
  • Period Piece: Averted, despite seeming like one. Looking at the cars and school fashion, it might look like the movie is set in the fifties, although the Director's commentary reveals that this is merely a metaphor about the outdated values of homophobia, and the film is actually set in a contemporary setting (the 90s, when it was filmed).
  • Pom-Pom Girl: Megan is one of the nicest cheerleaders at True Directions, and any ditziness can be chalked up to a repressed Christian upbringing. She also takes cheerleading very seriously, and her cheering is what persuades Graham to leave True Directions with her at the end of the film.
  • Purple Prose: Mary directing the simulated sexual lifestyle:
    Mary: He wants to love you, the way God intended, to be inside you, his love muscle thrusting...
    (Graham and Rock break apart, disgusted)
  • Only Sane Man: Graham is the most aware of how stupid the camp is.
  • Queer Romance: Graham and Megan, as well as Dolph and Clayton.
  • Rape and Switch: Discussed, but averted - the True Directions staff believe that being molested would cause a girl to turn into a lesbian, but the girl in question is actually straight.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The film takes ex-gay camps and makes them look as fluffy and inane as possible while playing up every gay stereotype in American culture to ensure that viewers get the message.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: While all the "evidence" people give that Megan is a lesbian (her vegetarianism, being a fan of Melissa Etheridge, not being into her boyfriend's french-kissing) and the "reasons" as to why (her mom having to be the family breadwinner after her dad lost his job) are dubious, they all figured out that Megan was gay long before she did. They got that right at least.
  • Rule of Romantic: The lighting during Megan and Graham's love scene makes...well, pretty much no sense whatsoever, but damn if it isn't very, very pretty.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Everything at the Conversion Camp, from the clothes to the mattresses to the flowers on the lawn, are all made of plastic, showing that they are trying to impose arbitrary standards of living (like heteronormative values) in an unnatural manner.
    • The house itself looks like Barbie's Dreamhouse, their curriculum simulating Nuclear Family-style domesticity onto the boys and girls not unlike how children would "play house" or "play soldier". This implies just how childish and lacking in nuance their worldview really is, as well as driving home that their methods won't work in the real world. Graham even lampshades that all they really do is teach the kids how not to get caught.
  • Sarcasm-Blind: When Megan tries to come up with a cheer celebrating straightness.
    Megan: Two, four, six, eight, God is good-
    Graham: God is straight!
    Megan: ...hey, that's good.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Lloyd and Larry appear like this, but deep down Larry is just as sensitive as Lloyd.
  • Sex Is Good: Played With. Mary is actually perfectly okay with the students having sex! ...As long as it's heterosexual sex in which the man is dominant and the woman is submissive and there's no foreplay and...
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Megan and Graham's first kiss during an argument.
  • Situational Sexuality: Hilary cites attendance at an all-girls boarding school as causing her lesbianism and Dolph claims that he turned gay from too many locker-room showers. Of course, it's made clear these explanations make no sense.
  • Sour Prudes: Graham sees Megan as this initially, but the truth is a lot more complicated.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Graham smokes as part of her bad girl image.
  • Staging an Intervention: Megan's family has an intervention to tell her that she's a lesbian and to send her off to anti-gay camp.
  • Strawman Political: The ex-gay counselors.
  • Straight Gay: Larry, although his brief fight with his boyfriend had him acting less than manly. Otherwise, he almost looks like a survivalist. Dolph is a smaller example of one, being a varsity wrestler.
  • Teacher's Pet: Although the movie isn't set at school, Hilary fits the personality type and seems to act as one towards the counsellors.
  • Tears of Joy: Megan cries these when she finally realizes she is a lesbian, complete with a group hug.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Near the end of the movie, Joel tries to comfort Andre by telling him he's awesome, but his compliments turn homoerotic pretty quickly.
    Joel: You're nice, 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 he's straight telling my ass how sexy I am!
  • Title Drop: Via Megan before truly realizing she is a homosexual.
    Megan: I'm not perverted. I get good grades. I go to church. I'm a cheerleader!
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Graham and Megan.
  • Tomboyish Name: Graham. It fits with the stereotype as she's a rather butch lesbian.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The girls are given tasers that give small electric shocks, and are supposed to zap themselves whenever they have "impure" thoughts. But as Sinead likes pain, she uses it to get off.
  • Trans Equals Gay: A big misconception of True Directions, to the point where the 'ungaying' process looks more an attempt to make all of the characters live up to their traditional gender roles more than anything else. This is especially mystifying for Megan, who is femme but gay and Jan, who is butch but straight.
  • Transparent Closet: Megan is the most prominent. Notably, every character at the camp except for Jan is written to be in one to leave no doubt that the camp is not working. Including ex-gay counsellor Mike and Mary's son, Rock.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Megan's dad seems to genuinely have her best interests at heart and at times seriously questions whether he's doing the right thing by forcing her to repress her sexuality. He seems to be falling prey to bigotry in the middle of the movie when he agrees with his wife that Megan cannot return home unless she becomes straight, but at the very end of the movie there is a brief shot of the two of them at a meeting for parents of LGBT children, indicating they are trying.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Mike, the only black person in the film, is gay (he insists that he's "ex-gay").
  • Visual Innuendo: Rock walking out onto the grounds with a broom handle in between his legs, rubbing it up and down...
  • Visual Pun: After Dolph and Clayton were caught making out, Mary exclaims that "[Clayton] will be in the doghouse!" The next time we see him, Mary lets him out of a literal doghouse.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Megan didn't break up with her boyfriend either before the camp, nor meanwhile through phone or a message. She even mentioned having said boyfriend during their group therapy. Was he waiting for her during the camp? Was she practically cheating on him with Graham?
    • What becomes of Hilary, Joel, and Sinead after Megan and Dolph run away with Graham and Clayton? Do they keep pretending to be straight for the rest of their lives?
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The Cocksucker. The kids break out of True Directions to go dance there. This is also where Megan and Graham have their first kiss.


Video Example(s):



Andre from But I'm a Cheerleader is probably the campiest version of this trope to date.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

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