Queerleaders: The History of the Lesbian Cheerleader in Film + Television

In light of the recent news of two new upcoming films featuring gay cheerleading characters as well as my longstanding admiration for this very specific type of character, I decided to reflect on a very important media legacy: queer cheerleaders on the screen.

I made a list of all the pom-pommed lesbian and bisexual moments from movies and TV that I could think of off the top of my head, which was already very long! I then did more research and found even more. The Queerleader is an image that has long been used to reinforce and refute the ideas of girlhood and feminism. Like many tropes and stereotypes when it comes to queer images and narratives in film and television, the Queerleader is complex: sometimes a powerful image of a femme lesbian and other times deliberately portrayed as disturbing and dangerous, a threat to only men but women. near her.

Before we get into the timeline, let’s start with the roots of the Queerleader legacy.

What does the sport and spectacle of cheerleading do to such a large area of ​​lesbian and bisexual activity? Well, I think the answer is so simple – and so complicated when you really drill down into it! — in response to why settings/contexts such as girls’ schools, convents and sororities are often also playgrounds for relaxation and sexual exploration. Typically, these are very feminine spaces that are considered largely free of men. And that’s where things get complicated too, because such spaces are often used by cis men for that exact reason. It is a place where they are forbidden, and therefore it is a place where they cast their voyeuristic gaze, watching as if through bullets. You might not be surprised that when I was researching this specific topic, I came across a lot of cheerleader-themed lesbian porn.

But I think it would be too simple – prudent, even – to recommend the Queerleader and the homoeroticization of the other “feminine” spaces there for the male gaze only. It would be a stretch to suggest that the Queerleader was invented by straight men, even if the earliest examples of these film pictures were indeed taken by men. While those might include most of our pre-1999 examples, I think that has more to do with who had the resources and power to make films. There are many examples from the early to mid-twentieth century of women writing lesbian narratives in some of the aforementioned women’s spaces, including Clemence Dane’s Regiment of Women 1917, set in a girls’ school. Radclyffe Hall drew from her friend Toupie Lowther’s experience in a women’s unit in World War I France for her famous novel The Well of Loneliness (1928). Prolific lesbian pulp novelist Ann Bannon realized her own sexuality during a sorority in college and then wrote Odd Girl Out (1957) about two sorority sisters in a relationship.

Sure, these are examples from literature, but in the early and mid-20th century, literature was a more accessible art form than film/television for women and queers, especially because pen names allowed them to write somewhat anonymously and ambiguously. But on the cinematic side of things, Dorothy Arzner arguably invented the all-girls school film The Wild Party in 1929, and while pre-Code compulsory heterosexuality can be seen in the film, its lesbian erotics cannot be miss.

So, cheerleading seems to fit into this concept of “women’s spaces,” which make great settings for lesbian stories – especially in years when homosexuality was widely criminalized and stigmatized – by allowing women to be close to each other. These are worlds where touching and being physically close to women can be seen as normal and even expected and not prohibited or heavily policed.

But when it comes to the Queerleader, I think the recurrence of this image goes beyond cheerleading being a predominantly female-dominated sphere. At the risk of starting to sound like an academic paper (or maybe that line has already been crossed lol), I argue that the cheerleader is an ideal symbol to inject with or combat queerness because of the dichotomies shown by cheerleaders culturally for a long time. I Go! Fight! Win!: Cheerleading in American Culture, Mary Ellen Hanson makes these contradictions embodied by cheerleaders:

The cheerleader is an icon, an instantly recognized symbol of youthful prestige, wholesome attractiveness, peer leadership, and popularity. The cheerleader is equally recognized as a symbol of bravado, shallow tonic, objectified sexuality, and sleazy availability. (Hanson, 2)

In fact, cheerleaders are mostly considered the most popular girls in school and at the same time they are dismissed as empty, empty-headed dolls. They are portrayed as Good Girls who cheer on the boys but are also portrayed as scantily clad outfits. Her femininity is a weapon and a beacon.

I’ll never forget the time a friend dumped another woman I barely knew and, when I asked why she did it, she simply said “she was a cheerleader in high school.” This former friend was making a very common (and boring!) comment about cheerleaders that has been around forever. It wasn’t like this snide 1974 Esquire article about ex-cheerleaders, but it was 2014. (The Esquire article likens additional ongoing cultural expectations of cheerleaders, including that they are white, blonde, and have ass in a way that could read as tongue in cheek but definitely isn’t. )

Not familiar with these dichotomies and paradoxes? Aren’t they bringing to mind the ways in which lesbians are culturally viewed and portrayed throughout history? At the same time sexless and hypersexual. Cheerleading the cheerleader is a way to challenge and reform these dual narratives. Homophobic iterations of the Queerleader see her as a predator and are meant to symbolize the ideal feminine cheerleaders. But ultimately positive and harsher iterations of the same character draw on the same cultural assumptions and symbols. The most successful and strongest only do so in a way that addresses those ideas rather than replicating them.

When I started writing this piece several months ago, I mostly intended it to be a horn. Horny, funny, and detailed – my sweet spot! Now this last iteration has citation work lite???? But listen to me, unlike Queerleader, you can be many things at the same time. Let me live my best erotic-meets-scholar life. Referral work can be horny, too!!! I am engaged to a librarian after all.

And with all that context, here’s my rough timeline of the Queerleader in film and television.

1970s: The Sexploitation of Lesbian Cheerleaders

I tried very hard to find some readily available pre-Code movies that 1. featured cheerleaders prominently and 2. See the article : Reaction from NFL Carolina Panthers transgender cheerleader Justine Lindsay. had enough of a readable lesbian subtext to warrant a place in this timeline, but it was this is difficult! When I researched the actual history of cheerleading itself, the reason became clear.

Cheerleading has not always been a female-dominated sport. In fact, it was mostly for men before the Second World War. This makes sense, as cheerleading began at the college level in conjunction with intercollegiate sports. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, male volunteers would lead gambling to encourage spectator participation during sporting events (Hanson, 11).

Stunts and jerseys started to become more popular in the 50s, and then in the 70s Title IX was introduced, which increased athletic opportunities and funding for women’s sports. Cheerleading became more athletic and less about shouting from the sidelines. So that’s your little history lesson on cheerleading and probably why we don’t see many film portrayals of women cheerleading in the Pre-Code or Hays Code eras of Hollywood.

The first instances I found of cheerleaders engaging in lesbian activities were the aforementioned 70s sex-driven movies where hookups between women are mostly used as non-sequitur tillations. The Cheerleaders (1973) — in which high school cheerleaders decide to sleep with the players of the rival team so that they are too tired to play well — and the absurdist The Great American Girl Robbery (1979), about a bus of cheerleaders taken hostage, are examples most obvious of these.

As the aforementioned Esquire article published in 1974 shows, the idea of ​​the cheerleader as a sex symbol was already firmly in place during this decade, and it is not surprising that we see Queerleaders growing up in these softcore films. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend these two particular films, but the lesbian sex scene in The Cheerleaders where an exercise bike is prominently featured… is very memorable! If you’ve seen any titty movies from the 70s era, there’s nothing here to shock you too much.

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But I’m a Cheerleader (1999)

Jamie Babbit’s teenage satire starring Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall as friends-turned-gay-conversion-camp is the most iconic entry on this list – and arguably the prototypical Queerleader film, even if it is technically that there are some performances before that. This may interest you : Atlanta Falcons to open Ticketmaster Studios in November. But since Babbit is queer herself, this feels like the real start.

In a 2005 interview, Babbit had this to say about the decision to make the main character a cheerleader:

Well, the reason we wanted the main character to be a cheerleader is because, for us, it was sort of the pinnacle of the American dream, and the American dream of femininity.

Babbit uses and inverts the same image and makes assumptions about those sexist films from the 1970s with Queerleaders that were also put out – but in a more subversive and subversive way. In those 70s movies, a cheerleader who engages in lesbian sex (and mostly straight men) is basically assumed to be cuckolded because it seems taboo and wrong in the context of the All-American Good Girl that came the cheerleader to represent him. Cheerleaders exist, according to the definition adopted by those films, to defend themselves against the achievements of men and women. It is not contrary to that to see them having sex with each other (even when a male voyeur is secretly present, as is usual in the scenes of the 70s). With But I’m a Cheerleader, the main intention isn’t necessarily titles, but there’s something equally frustrating in the way Megan’s queerness is seen as contradicting her identity as a cheerleader. The tongue-in-cheek title is worth noting: She can’t be gay because she’s a cheerleader. Only here, Babbit is mocking such a silly assertion, challenging not only the dominant narrative of how women look and act but also how cheerleaders act too.

The film is not only one of the best and earliest Queerleader texts but also one of the greatest lesbian films of all time; In fact, it’s the number one spot on our list of the 200 best lesbian, bisexual and queer movies.

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Bring It On (2000)

This film is the only one on this timeline that uses lesbian subtext rather than overt content, but it would be foolish to ignore the continued popularity of Bring It On in the queer community, especially since that many of us are over 30 and We often hear movies in our younger years that weren’t necessarily loud but had an implicit lesbian undercurrent (because some of us weren’t necessarily sharper but an implicit lesbian undercurrent us, like every move we made). Take it may not be an express Queerleader text, but it’s almost too easy to project a Queerleader story onto it. See the article : Kelly Ripa admits David Muir after big job news affecting….

Bring It On, a very good movie, inspired a whole slew of very bad direct-to-video/made-for-TV movies, and you’ll read a little more about that further down the timeline.

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Veronica Mars, “Versatile Toppings” (2006) / Heroes, “Hysterical Blindness” (2009)

Season two of Veronica Mars gave us a celebratory gay act in the episode “Versatile Toppings,” which, unfortunately, is a reference to pizza and not lesbian bars. The episode feels like a 2006 pop culture time capsule in that Kristin Cavallari of Laguna Beach fame plays a closeted cheerleader. There’s also some high school homophobia on display, with Madison Sinclair making fun of another heard character, Marlena, for looking like an Indigo girl? Anyway, even though lesbian cheerleading isn’t exactly a main line through this show or even this episode, I’m interested in how the appeal and ubiquity of the Queerleader trope makes it so that it even shows up in small moments like this. We see another model of this in the fourth season of Heroes, which manages to combine Queerleader and Sapphic sorority shenanigans. Sure, Claire’s no longer a practicing cheerleader at this point, but her college classmate’s obsessive crush seems to be leaning toward romanticizing Claire’s All-American girl aesthetic. I’m counting!

Across the Universe (2007)

The conclusion that this Beatles-themed music film made me feel when I was 15 and in performing arts school? Impossible to exaggerate. Although I was too impressed at the time to admit it, a big part of this obsession was the film’s re-contextualization of the song “I Want To Hold Your Hand” to be about the nostalgia of the closeted cheerleader. Prudence holds it down for the small-town midwestern queerleaders out there. Played by Chinese American actress TV Carpio, she also stands out on this list, which incidentally tracks many on-screen portrayals of cheerleading failure. After all, queerleaders are known to be many things at once, and characters of color are often not allowed to be as complex and conflict-laden as their white counterparts.

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Understated – and even malign – at the time of its release and now accepted and celebrated as a classic after decades of cultural writing that rethought and reframed the conversation around it, Jennifer’s Body is one of the best bisexual horror films. has ever been done. It was, according to my memory, the first time I saw two women kiss on the big screen.

But even before that, Jennifer’s Body stirred inside me with a ferocious animal force. It wasn’t the jumpscares or the body horror that got me; what made me close my eyes was the very homerotic tension between Needy (Amanda Seyfried) and her best friend Jennifer (Megan Fox). It was too much for my closeted self to bear. In their first scene together, Needy watches Jennifer perform a routine in her cheerleading uniform — in slow motion — in the high school gym. Perhaps the slow motion is intended for the viewer’s own voyeurism, but my reading is that this is Needy’s perspective; She sees Jennifer’s body (*voice of Beanie Feldstein* is the TITULAR ROLE) in a funny, soft, sexual movement, so that’s what we see, too. She looks so sharp, sharp, and eager to register in his gaze that another student continues and says “you’re a total gay lesbian.” For me, this whole moment is much more erotic than to make out in the end.

This is less of a film about cheerleading and more of a film about Jennifer turning into a flesh-eating succubus, but given the iconic “lesbi-gay” slow-motion scenes and cheer-clad cheerleaders, it’s an important film in this timeline. . Jennifer’s status as a popular cheerleader is a big part of why she is able to get close to men and then kill them. She is threatening the natural social order of the school, perhaps not because she is in love with her best friend but because she is a literary devil.

Fired Up! (2009)

Do I regret the hour and a half I spent watching this movie? For the most part! Was it worth it, perhaps, for the scene where all the camp attendees recite lines verbatim to each other while watching Bring It On? SHOULD NOT. Fueled! It’s about two football referees who decide to go to cheerleading camp to increase their body counts, so you might not be surprised to learn that the humor here is of the raw, bro-y kind.

The only Queerleader in this movie is a textbook example of a predatory lesbian, and I almost didn’t put him in this timeline for that reason. But I ended up wanting this exploration to feel really comprehensive and layered, and that means including the bad shit, too.

There’s a running gag in the movie where one of the cheerleaders doesn’t realize the Queerleader is hitting on her hard. Fueled! the Queerleader stands as an impure distortion of the cheerleader, a stark departure from what Fired Up! believes that cheerleaders should represent. In a way, there is even a parallel between her and the main straight dudes, whose proximity to cheerleading depends on them wanting access to cheerleaders and their bodies. But, it is the men who will be the goofy and redeemable protagonists in the end, although she remains a bit of a character that we are meant to think is gross.

Fueled! out when I was in high school, and I don’t think I saw it at the time, but this was an image of a lesbian that I was very familiar with, and really this kind of casual representation of the lesbian as basically creepy and aggressive within feminine spaces did far more psychological damage to me than any overt examples of the lesbian as a villain or even as a killer. Remember how I wanted to close my eyes during the opening cheerleading scene of Jennifer’s Body? It was exactly because of this; because I felt like a creep for looking at her like Needy does.

Fun Fact: There’s a blooper reel during the credits, in which Poppy Juliette Goglia – who is one of the main guy’s little sisters – says the word Queerleader during a runner of various punchlines. It’s totally meant as an insult in this context, but then again, I’m watching alllllll movie productions of this stuff, baby! The good, the bad, and the ugly!

Glee (2009)

Ah, yes, if I was hooked on Across the World when I was a musical theater student in high school, well, Glee made that bite even bigger. Although it is primarily about glee club and only occasionally about cheerleading through the central villain Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch, unfortunately not playing a queerleading coach), it is the image that comes to mind easily and is potent when I think of Glee . : two girls in cheerleading uniforms, holding pinkies.

Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) and Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris) were formative leaders for me — and arguably THE Queerleaders in this timeline. The first time we see them kiss, they are in bed together in their cheerleading uniforms. Those uniforms cannot be woven in from these characters. Brittany’s bisexuality isn’t really a source of conflict, and Santana’s all about being the prototypical Mean Girl on the surface but there’s so much more to her. In fact, it means almost everyone except Brittany. And they go from high school sweethearts to wives!

Fun Fact: One of the gayest things I’ve ever done while still identifying as straight was when I wrote an “article” for a “pop culture magazine” on my college campus about the merits and nuances of Santana Lopez’s coming out arc on Glee .

Hellcats (2010)

This series about college cheerleaders only ran on the CW for one season and is nearly impossible to stream these days. But during that brief period, Elena Esovolova played Patty “The Wedge” Wedgerman, a lesbian out on the squad. However, Patty only appeared in five episodes and never really got a full storyline. Despite having a lesbian character, there are no lesbian relationships in the series, and if anything the gayest parts seem to be the subtext between the show’s main characters Marti (Aly Michalka) and Savannah (Ashley Tisdale).

Apparently, during a press visit in 2011, Michalka noted that Patty was removed from the story because “the writers found it really difficult to bring her into the Hellcats and share all the storylines.” Although Michalka noted that this had nothing to do with Patty being a lesbian………I’m not sure. It seems to me that another case of the Queerleader was made by an “outsider”, and instead of her being a meaningful and potentially powerful image that dismantles ingrained images, it becomes an inconvenience for the writers. I love lesbian subtext, but if you’re not willing to just go there and not be more obvious WHEN LESBIAN TREATMENT IS ALREADY OVER, that’s me.

All Cheerleaders Die (2013)

I recently watched this movie for the first time and I was very happy! Is it perfect? But it’s fun horror trash with some bright moments. All Cheerleaders Die focuses on Mäddy (Caitlin Stasey), a girl whose best friend dies during a cheerleading stunt gone wrong. (The movie-style scene that finds that death at the beginning of the movie is great; I always love a portrayal of cheerleading that acknowledges how brutal the sport can be, which we’ll get into further down the timeline .) A year follows, Mäddy joins the squad, which confuses his recent ex-girlfriend Leena, who is a witch btw.

When the cheerleading squad dies due to an altercation with the football team, Leena brings them all back from the dead. The catch? They are succubus/vampire like creatures that are inherently linked and must feed together on the blood of men to maintain their strength. There are body swapping shenanigans, body horror, my favorite things. All the while, Leena seems to enjoy ruling the lives of these cheerleaders. And like a good monster lover, she lets Mäddy feed her.

A double feature production of Jennifer’s Body and this movie would be so much fun! I like my Queerleaders to be murderers of men!

Wynonna Earp, “Gonna Getcha Good” (2017)

In season two, episode three of the Western sci-fi series Wynonna Earp, the bisexual character Waverly (Dom Provost-Chalkley) wears a cheerleading outfit and puts on a seductive routine for her girlfriend Nicole (Katherine Barrell). This show is only a little bit about cheerleaders, but this is a very important Queerleader moment in that Waverly is pretending to be a cheerleader to get her girlfriend. The scene directly identifies the erotic appeal of cheerleading for lesbians and bisexual women.

“I didn’t know it was your thing,” Waverly says after she’s done with the affection. Nicole’s jaw is on the floor. “Baby, that’s everybody’s thing,” she says. Which is basically my entire thesis for this piece in a nutshell.

Riverdale (2017)

The second season of Riverdale officially marked the beginning of jokes for Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch), but some of us, ahem, STUDENTS were noticing that the sharp-tongued cheerleader from episode one was basically getting gay rage.

In fact, there is a Queerleader moment in the Riverdale pilot – a kiss between Veronica (Camila Mendes) and Betty (Lili Reinhart) during their Vixens auditions that Cheryl immediately dismissed as pandering and dated: “The faux lesbian kiss wasn’t taboo since 1994 for. .” But later in the series, Cheryl goes on to co-captain the Vixens with her literal girlfriend, bisexual icon Toni Topaz (Vanessa Morgan). And while the show has strayed far from its high school drama premise, Queerleading will always be a thread in its increasingly confusing alien DNA.

I strongly believe that Cheryl is a testament to the enduring influence of Queerleader Santana Lopez. Here, too, there is a stock-type Mean Girl on the surface with a quiet vulnerability and softness, brought out by the fellow Queerleader with whom she falls in love.

The Babysitter (2017)

Here’s another little stretch, but I’m nothing if not thorough. Horror-romp comes the only moment Queerleading-next to the Babysitter when Samara Weaving’s Allison Bella Thorne’s tongues during a game spin the bottle. Allison is in her cheerleading uniform for the purposeful over the top makeup sequence, when Bee puts her gum in Allison’s mouth ???? There is no overt textual evidence of bisexuality or Allison’s bisexuality in the film – unless you count very similar arousal during this extended kiss, DO I??? In addition, I feel that all of Bella Thorne’s characters are just radiating Bella’s own bisexuality.

We see this slow motion scene from the perspective of an adolescent boy, so I can see how it could be seen as a continuation of the sort of male fantasy that Queerleaders had from back in the 70’s or in the porn movies of the day today. But the scene is so long and so exaggerated that it really feels like it’s teasing the voyeur and literally tongue in cheek.

Dare Me (2019)

Yes, I now partake in one of my favorite pastimes: Screaming at people to watch Dare Me.

No movie or show has captured the raw brutality of cheerleading as a sport quite like Dare Me, a slow-burn thriller full of blood, crunched bones, and contorted bodies. It also lives in another hyperspecific subgenre that I’m drawn to: stories about toxic mentoring. In this case, that’s what the coach-athlete dynamic really looks like. It doesn’t go in the ways you think it might. But the body and mind of Addy Hanlon (Herizen F. Guardiola) and the ways in which she handles the young girl are a source of horror for coach Colette French (Willa Fitzgerald).

And that violent power dynamic does not become overtly sexual, because queerness itself is not villainized in Dare Me – an abuse of power. Instead, there is an ever-burning romance at the heart of the show, languishing on the sidelines for much of the series. but ultimately it is extremely important for motivation and character development. Addy’s co-dependent friendship with bff Beth (Marlo Kelly) is gradually revealed to be something else. Subtext becomes bolder in measured, scintillating increments rather than big, subtle revelations, and feels more real for that. And throughout, Dare Me  explores how dangerous and intense cheerleading itself can be, sticking its middle finger to portraying the sport as cute and fluffy. Femininity in Dare Me has sharp edges and bite.

I recently read the pilot script for Dare Me and some of the language he uses when describing actions struck a chord with me. He describes the girls putting glitter on their faces as their “cheer masks”. When a character falls, the script notes that this is actually the most cheering thing. This is a show that understands well the performance, risk, and almost battle-like promises of cheerleading, which makes its exploration of Queerleading all the juicier.

Knives and Skin (2019)

Knives and Skin is a very strange film that is described as if David Lynch would make a film for teenagers without conforming to those catchy interpretations, Knives and Skin includes clownfucking, a cappella performances of pop songs, and strong. use of color. For an experimental film, it doesn’t take many risks and could have done with tighter editing.

One of the many teenage girl characters (the film is mostly about, among other things, the unbearable sadness threaded through girlhood) Queerleader named Laurel (Kayla Carter). Most likely, she is in the closet or otherwise still figuring out her sexuality. She has a very visible relationship with a boy but a shady relationship with another girl. Even if they don’t officially “date”, they find a lot of homoerotic things to do together, including giving each other handwritten notes that were kept … inside their vaginas.

The Prom (2020)

Ariana DeBose’s closeted Queerleader Alyssa is the best part of The Prom, a movie musical I wish I liked more! It’s very endearing and beautiful for a while, but there’s an emptiness that makes it almost instantly forgettable. But! Alyssa! Alyssa is a super character, and her relationship with her queerness is different from the main character of the film. The stakes are different for her.

Alyssa’s solo in the movie “Alyssa Greene” is about molding her mother (Kerry Washington) into the perfect girl. She must be beautiful and smart (“The hair must be perfect / The As must be straight”). She has to be the best at everything she does (“Trophies have to be first / ribbons have to be blue”). Cheerleading is one of the many things that Alyssa has to ascribe to in order to achieve the level of perfection that her mother demands and the level of perfection that eventually buries her looks deeper and deeper. It’s a tactic many queer people employed during our teenage years, myself included: You think there’s something “wrong” with you so you fight like hell to make everyone else look “perfect.” Her cheerleading uniform is like the rest of her life: costume and action. Or, perhaps, armor to protect herself.

Fear Street Part One: 1994 (2021)

I think Sam is the least interesting character in the Fear Street trilogy, but she is a Queerleader! We first meet Sam (Olivia Scott Welch) in the first installment. She’s in her cheerleading uniform on the football field at Sunnyvale High, where she recently transferred from Shadyside. Up to this point, we know that the main character Deena (Kiana Madeira) is going through a dramatic high school breakup, but we do not know that it is of the queer variety until this moment, Sam finally dropped the facade a picturesque performance, wrapped in the arms of a football player, to fight full-on fence to be away from everyone else with Deena. Sam is clearly going through it, thinking that the only way she can live a happy, healthy life is to be in this textbook, idealized high school cheerleader-dating-a-football-player trope. And frankly I think Deena should let Sam figure that out on her own and date someone safer, but teenagers will be teenagers!

The music videos for “Somebody I Fucked Once” by Zolita and “Silk Chiffon” by MUNA and Phoebe Bridgers (2021)

Sure, these aren’t exactly film and TV, but I’d be remiss not to include these two musical tributes to the Queerleader that came out in 2021. “Silk Chiffon” directly references and reproduces images and stories from But I Am Human. Cheerleader, a cute and fun tribute that feels fitting for last summer’s inevitable upbeat pop love song.

Zolita’s take on “Somebody I Fucked Once” is arguably the campier video of the two. It’s less of a straight riff and more like a mix-and-match collage of early 2000s aesthetics, teen movie tropes, and Queerleader imagery! In it, the blonde, pink-clad cheerleader falls for the goth brunette in pottery. Yes, there is a sensory potter’s wheel moment! Simply put, this is the hornier of the two music videos, still bubblegum pink and corny throughout but with more teeth to it.

Honestly, the main reason I wanted to include Zolita’s music video is because I feel like I’m ultimately doing the same job with this list by honoring the Queerleader and acknowledging his hold on culture lesbian pop in a way that acknowledges that, yes, some of us find the concept of Queerleaders very sexy, indeed, queer women! The Queerleader as an erotic image belongs only to the realm of male fantasy. This music video achieves that in the same way that the scene from Wynonna Earp does.

Bring It On: Cheer or Die (2022)

This television entry in the Bring It On universe is not well made, despite having a solid (slasher cheerleading) hook and being the first of the Bring It On films to be directed by a woman (how! !! ). I said going into it “if this movie doesn’t have a Queerleader, I’m rioting.” Thankfully, he technically delivers, even if only in the tiniest way, near the end of the film. But sure enough, one of the members of this cheer squad has a secret crush on another cheerleader, and instead of following into the predatory vibes the way Fired Up! that does, we get something much more sincere and sweet. Also, as far as slashers go, I hate revealing the killer here. But no, it’s not a very good movie, so be warned. Now, somebody let me write Bring It On: Queerleaders Rise.

Backspot and Bottoms (upcoming)

If you’re wondering where I got the idea for this piece in the first place, well, to be honest, I’m personally very interested! I was drawn to cheerleading before I was even close to being outside and always as a spectator, never as a participant. In fact, I was interested in cheerleading specifically because it was expressly forbidden in my family. My grandmother had a rule that we were never allowed to play chess, because she thought it was too dangerous. My mother also enforced the rule, but I think mostly because she thought cheerleading was stupid. After all, she let my brother play football, which isn’t exactly recognized as a safe sport or a sport that isn’t as gender expressive but I DIGRESS. So, yes, cheerleading was completely banned in my childhood, and I was also attracted to it. Sounds more than a little gay if you ask me!!!!!!!

But the other reason I had this particular thought at this particular time is that there is not one but two new Queerleading movies on the horizon. Backspot is executive produced by Elliott Page and stars Devery Jacobs of Reservation Dogs. She will play Riley, whose romance with Queerleader Amanda grows alongside her competitive cheerleading career. Bottoms will be a sex comedy starring Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri as high school seniors who create a fight club in order to use it to hook up with other cheerleaders. I’m interested! You can expect a more thorough analysis of both films and what they did or didn’t do with the Queerleader symbol when they’re out.

During my research, I did not come across any specific representations of trans Queerleaders, suggesting that even more extreme representations of cheerleaders come with rigid assumptions about gender and girlhood and who a cheerleader is.

The Queerleader clearly isn’t going anywhere – the character’s appeal is huge and enduring. Some stories use it to reinforce social rules and roles, others to refute them. The sport’s built-in homoerotics make it a great playground for lesbian activism, but it’s the cheerleader’s firm position as a mythic symbol of perfection and elevated femininity that makes it so tempting to inject queerness. The Queerleader is much more than a sex symbol, but at the same time, the character’s potential for specific lesbian erotics cannot be denied!

If you think I’ve missed anything, please let me know! I love an excuse to watch Queerleading movies for my job, and as I showed, I want this to be as inclusive as possible! Any international movies I should check out? Let me know!

Follow the Great White Sharks, a cheerleading squad around the world, as they deal with the pressures of training, school, work and relationships. See all you want.

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Is but I’m a cheerleader a comedy?

I’m a Cheerleader is a 1999 dark satirical, romantic black comedy film directed by Jamie Babbit, written by Babbit and Brian Wayne Peterson.

How old was Natasha in but I’m a cheerleader? Clea DuVall and Natasha were friends before production began. The two were driving together and Natasha (18 years old at the time) noticed the script in the car and asked if she could be in the film.

Is the book just a cheerleader? But I’m a Cheerleader book by Clea DuVall, Bud Cort, Cathy Moriarty, et al.

What time period is involved but I’m a cheerleader? However, Megan has a poster of Melissa Ethridge on her wall and Sinead has a style that would be very unusual for the period, giving the impression that the film is set in the 90s.

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