But I’m a Happy Leader: Where the Road Is Today

The 1999 romantic comedy But I’m a Cheerleader was decidedly ahead of its time. Although a cultural shift towards greater acceptance and tolerance slowly but surely began to take root, the 1990s were not as accepting as one might assume from the film and television projects of the time. LGBT characters have become increasingly common in Hollywood, but this representation has not been met without a notable degree of backlash. Popular sitcoms and movies have incorporated minor gay and lesbian characters into their ensembles, leading the fight to destigmatize gay and lesbian individuals in the media. Releasing a movie like But I’m a Cheerleader in the late 90s was an incredibly bold and risky venture. For context, the first male to male kiss in the air on primetime television was only a year earlier in an episode of That 70s Show, in which a gay classmate makes an advance on Eric Foreman.

But I’m a Cheerleader remains to this day one of the films with the highest number of LGBT characters, with the entire True Direction students being gay and lesbian youth. Megan Bloomfield is a cheerleader at her local high school, and her boyfriend is of course a popular football player. They are a picturesque American teenage couple. Megan does not suspect that she is different from any of her peers. Sure, she dreams about her fellow cheerleaders when she’s buried with her boyfriend, and her personal spaces are decorated with posters of girls instead of male teenage heartthrobs; but none of these things raise any questions in Megan’s own mind about her sexual identity. Observing this, as well as her preference for a vegetarian diet, Megan’s conservative friends and family suspect that she is a lesbian. They send her to True Directions, a conversion therapy camp where they hope she will be “cured” of her sexual orientation. The camp aesthetic is reminiscent of a shiny Barbie cosplay, which gives the film a distinctly campy setting, which is emphasized by the satirical script and funny performances. Over the course of the film, Megan learns to accept who she is as she falls in love with another girl at the camp.

Natasha Lyonne / Megan Bloomfield

Natasha Lyonne stars as naive cheerleader Megan Bloomfield, whose exile to a conversion camp leads to a sexual awakening and coming-of-age story. In 1999, the same year as the release of But I’m a Cheerleader, Lyonne appeared in another and more successful teen comedy, American Pie. The next few years saw Lyonne booked and busy with roles in the Scream franchise, Kate 7 Leopold, and Blade: Trinity. Her most notable and famous role came in 2013 when she starred as Nicky Nichols in Orange Is the New Black. Read also : Stay in the hall: A speech to remember. The series followed a group of incarcerated women in a federal prison, and often included lesbian sex scenes and romance. The series incorporated Lyonne’s currently prominent chest scar into her character’s backstory, a scar that came as a result of an open-heart procedure. Her recent work includes the Netflix series Russian Doll, in which she plays multiple roles.

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Clea DuVall / Graham Eaton

The Los Angeles-born actress starred in a number of hit films, including She’s All That, 21 Grams, and Argo. Despite becoming an LGBT cult icon after her role as Graham Eaton, the now openly gay actress was very much locked in filming But I’m a Cheerleader. Clea DuVall came out in 2016 and is happily married. Read also : Middlebury cheerleader promotes inclusion with pom poms. The actress branched out into filmmaking, writing, producing, directing and starring in the 2016 film The Intervention. She later wrote and directed Happiest Season, a film about a withdrawn young woman who brings her girlfriend home for the holidays, only to have her pretend that this is only a platonic friend.

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Cathy Moriarty / Mary Brown

Cathy Moriarty made her film debut under the direction of none other than Martin Scorsese after being discovered in a New York bar by Joe Pesci. She shared the screen with names like Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Billy Crystal, Sharon Stone and Gerard Butler. Read also : ‘Best decision I ever made’: Quinton Bell’s bold move led him to NFL. Her work has expanded beyond film and into a number of television roles. The actress has three children, and has been married to financier Joseph Gentile for over two decades.

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RuPaul / Mike

RuPaul is perhaps one of the most iconic personalities in the cast of this 1999 comedy. A king of camp and queen of drag – as he declared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon – RuPaul got his start in music. His 1993 track “Supermodel (You Better Work)” topped the UK charts and #45 on the Billboard Hot 100, and is still a popular sound on TikTok. A music career gave way to a modeling contract with MAC cosmetics, his growing popularity paved the way for the development of The RuPaul Show and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Starting in 2015, RuPaul hosted a drag convention in Los Angeles called RuPaul’s DragCon.

Mink Stole / Nancy Bloomfield

The actress led a diversified career, publishing newspaper columns and starring in a number of 1960s short films. But I’m a Cheerleader is one of her most notable projects, with Stuck! and All About Evil are her only two later projects. In the last of these she once again starred alongside Natasha Lyonne. Mink Stole is also known to play in a band, and officiate weddings as a minister of the Universal Life Church.

Eddie Cibrian / Rock Brown

The former soap opera actor appears in this film as the very likely gay son of Conversion Camp director Mary Brown. After But I’m a Cheerleader, Eddie Cibrian went on to star in CSI: Miami and Third Watch, with guest roles on Beverly Hills, 90210, Criminal Minds, and more. Cibrian married former reality star Brandi Glanville, a marriage that came to a rocky end when his affair with country music star LeAnn Rimes was exposed. Rimes and Cibrian are still married.

Melanie Lynskey / Hilary Vandermueller

Given the actress’ mastery of American regional accents, one would never guess that Melanie Lynskey is actually from New Zealand. Her role in But I’m a Cheerleader is one of the few in which the actress uses her native accent. Her film debut was opposite Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures, with Lynskey’s performance being praised by critics. In the 2000s, Lynskey enjoyed a recurring supporting role in Two and Half Men as Charlie Harper’s obsessive former one-night stand. One of her most notable roles was as the sexually abusive aunt of the teenage lead in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Most recently, she starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in the satirical doomsday film Don’t Look Up, which tackled the looming climate crisis. Lynskey is good friends with But I’m a Cheerleader co-star Clea Duvall.

Dante Basco / Dolph

Previously starring in Steven Spielberg’s Hook, But I’m a Cheerleader was one of the last physical acting roles for Dante Basco. He has lent his voice to a number of animated characters in beloved series such as Avatar: The Last Airbender, Star Wars Rebels, The Proud Family, and The Legend of Korra.

Bud Cort / Peter Bloomfield

The M*A*S*H star celebrated comedian has appeared in many films including Harold and Maude, Pollock, The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud. None of these were particularly notable successes for Bud Cort, and the celebrated comedian eventually transitioned into more voice-over and voice acting work.

Michelle Williams as Kimberly

This bona fide movie star enjoyed a prestigious career beyond the release of But I’m a Cheerleader. Michelle Williams was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Brokeback Mountain, the set of which she met Heath Ledger, the late actor with whom she had a daughter. She received further acclaim for her roles as a mentally disturbed mother in Shutter Island; a discontented woman in Blue Valentine, and Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. Her recent work includes Manchester by the Sea and The Greatest Showman.

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