But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)
Megan (Natasha Lyonne, Uncut Gems, American Pie) considers herself a typical American girl. She excels in school and cheerleading, and she has a handsome football-playing boyfriend, even though she isn’t that crazy about him. So she’s stunned when her parents decide she’s gay and send her to True Directions, a boot camp meant to “alter her sexual orientation”. While there, Megan meets a rebellious and unashamed teen lesbian, Graham (Clea DuVall, Girl Interrupted, Zodiac). Though Megan still feels confused, she starts to have feelings for Graham. Also features Cathy Moriarty, Michelle Williams, Bud Cort, Mink Stole and RuPaul.
Director Jamie Babbit got the financing to make this movie by giving a one-sentence pitch to a Prudential Insurance vice president who happened to be at Sundance, because the world used to be weird in a good way and not weird like a post-all-you-can-eat-raw-oysters stress dream. Inspired by John Waters, David LaChapelle, Edward Scissorhands and her own mom’s job running a drug and alcohol halfway house, she (and her screenwriting partner) turned that lucky pitch into one of the formative queer indie movies of the nineties. Making her main character a cheerleader to represent the “American dream of femininity,” But I’m a Cheerleader is a sharp, tender, campy satire of a cultural attitude that shouldn’t be relevant anymore but still, absurdly, is.