chapter  10
18 Pages

The Queer Vegetarian

Understanding Alimentary Activism
WithLauren Rae Hall

In Jamie Babbit’s 1999 camp film classic But I’m a Cheerleader, the unassuming cheerleader protagonist, Megan, is immediately differentiated for viewers when her mother places carrots—instead of the steak she’s serving everyone else—on her daughter’s dinner plate. The mother appears bothered, but it is not until several scenes later that we discover why. Megan’s family and friends, convinced she’s a lesbian, hold an intervention and coerce her into going to a camp that is, in her mother’s words, “like rehab, honey, um, homosexuals anonymous.” The attending camp counselor Mike (hilariously played by drag superstar RuPaul), who forlornly announces at the beginning of the intervention “I myself was once a gay,” asks Megan about her “tendencies.” “What tendencies?” Megan inquires, “Why would you think I’m a—?” Her mother angrily stands up, shaking a bag of tofu: “You’ve been trying to make us eat this … tofu!” Mike, donning a blue “straight is great” t-shirt, looks directly into the camera, wagging a finger, and warns “In diet, look for a switch to vegetarianism!”