Movie 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' Tells Story of Gay Conversion at Christian Camp

Joella Marano is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The film is based in the early 1990s, but has hints of what may come in the Trump era.

The uselessness of having camps to “convert gays” is clearly shown in The Miseducation of Cameron Post, a movie based on the 2012 novel by the author Emily M. Danforth. The 1990s are portrayed in their full glory in the film, much before civil rights activists finally gained a victory with legal marriage rights for same-sex couples all over the United States. The message from the film, however, remains as valid as ever, with the present Trump administration pandering to the ultra-conservative right.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post was directed by Desiree Akhavan of Iranian-American descent, and a queer herself. Chloe Grace Moretz plays the titular role, a teenage lesbian whose aunt, an evangelical Christian, sends her to conversion therapy after Moretz's male prom date witnesses her in a compromising position with another girl. The film hints at the possibility of a return to repression during the present Trump era, its chances made more possible when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a baker in Colorado who declined to cite religious reasons to craft a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

Viewers will empathize with Moretz who plays her role with aplomb, following a script masterfully written by Akhavan and Cecilia Frugiuele. The content sidesteps gay caricatures when the film shines a light on the counselors of God's Promise, the name given to the "de-gaying" camp, a man of God, Reverend Rick (played to a T by John Gallagher Jr.) and Lydia, the priest's sister and therapist. Jennifer Ehle plays the role, projecting along with her on-screen brother a certain kind of moral certainty which could not hide their inner confusion. The Reverend claims to be ex-gay but hints of queerness are shown in the film. The crew’s well-laid plans come to naught when Cameron binds with her fellow sinners attending the camp: Adam Red Eagle (played by Forrest Goodluck) and Jane, a smoker who hides joints inside her prosthetic leg, played by Sasha Lane.

People who have read the Danforth novel will note that the 90-minute film has truncated the novel's introductory chapter where Cameron discovers and then starts to acknowledge her own sexuality. The director opts for a sharply edited introductory scene to show Cameron in the middle of Bible believers. The titular character is also seen hooking up with Coley, her girlfriend, a role played admirably by Quinn Shephard, prior to the God's Promise scenes dominating most of the film run.

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