A Great Movie and Gay Stereotypes

Today, while recuperating from whatever illness beset me late yesterday afternoon, I decided to watch But I’m a Cheerleader, which is possibly one of the cheesiest movies I have ever seen. This is a movie that tries to play off of every stereotype of gay men and lesbians they can think of. And amazingly, it works in this instance.

I think the reason it works for this movie is because it’s a movie about a group of young people who have been shipped off to some insane camp to turn them all straight. The camp attempts to do this by teaching each teen to break away from the queer stereotypes and try to act more like tha “proper” boy or girl, based on gender stereotypes we’ve all heard.

I think part of what makes the whole thing funny, if a little scary, is that based on some of my own investigations of groups that try to turn gay people straight — including one book I read while back in college, such programs really do put a significant amount of stock in such stereotypes. Suddenly, being a straight guy is as much about being able to talk cars and sports as it is about who you want to cuddle with. (And we won’t even mention all the other things we want to do together!)

I think I find this mentality particularly strange because there are certain stereotypes I fit that have nothing to do with the fact that I’m gay. For example, I absolutely stink at sports. Whether it’s volleyball, baseball, soccer, football, or any other sport you can name, I’m lousy at it. However, that’s because of how my brain chose to adapt to the fact that I lived the first twenty eight or so years of my life with a lazy eye. Having your entire perception of the world shift to the left or right by a couple inches at a critical moment tends to make catching, hitting, or kicking a quickly moving object quite the challenge. Being gay has nothing to do with it. It’s just one of those odd coincidences.

And that’s the problem with such stereotypes around gender and sexuality. They completely miss the bigger picture.

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