Reel Girl Film Club pop up at The Pink Room at YES this September with popcorn, treats and a screening of director Jamie Babbit’s cult 1999 romantic satire But I’m a Cheerleader. The film, which was Babbit’s debut feature, follows all-American high school cheerleader, Megan (Natasha Lyonne) who comes home one day to find herself the subject of an intervention. Her friends and family suspect that she’s a lesbian, you see, and she’s quickly packed off to a conversion therapy camp. It’s there that she meets and falls for Graham (Clea DuVall), a rebellious girl also forced to into attendance by her family. Together they set out to cause trouble and challenge the camp’s harmful anti-gay doctrine.
It’s a scenario strikingly similar to Desiree Akhavan’s 2018 The Miseducation of Cameron Post, but Babbit’s nineties film opted for a broad, absurdist approach. Featuring RuPaul Charles in a supporting role as a camp counselor (“I myself was once a gay.”), Babbit soaks her film in intense pinks, yellows and blues, using colour to highlight the ridiculous nature of the camp. There were perhaps predictably mixed reviews on release, but But I’m a Cheerleader has been earning fans ever since, developing into a cult object thanks to its singular comedic approach to difficult subject matter. At a time when the American right is on the rise once again, Reel Girl Film Club’s screening of this queer classic is a welcome skewering.