Cheerleading is as gay as you thought

Saturday I found myself engulfed in High School Cheerleaders before 9 in the morning. Now before your dirty minds make an unfortunate leap, my attendance was required at the Oregon State Cheerleading Championships because my partner’s niece had qualified for the contest. I like to leave my pre-conceived notions at the door, so I tried not to label it as a Bring it on stereotype. I shouldn’t have bothered. It was nearly identical.

But before I delve further into the non-relevant rest of this post I want to tell you what about this was gay. I’m certainly not trying to employ the derogatory and generic epithet but rather, cheerleading, and the championships in particular, really do draw from gay culture. First and foremost, the music was like a schizophrenic gay rave. No song clip lasted longer than the 10 seconds a methhead could pay attention (and they were the most nasty dirty sex songs of the past 30 years mind you) and they were pasted sloppily over intensely clubby house beats. Of course the glitter and pompoms have been shared elements of cheerleading and gay culture throughout the 20th century but the wigs and hair extensions were new to me. Of course cheerleaders all must have ponytails, but I shouldn’t have assumed they were all naturally long haired. Just like drag queens, at the end of the day they take off their false eyelashes and bouncy curls as well. Then there are the male cheerleaders. I don’t think that they’re all gay. To reference Bring it on (yet again) it does, however, seem about 50/50…like ballet dancers, not like ice skaters (that’s gotta be way closer to 90%). I’m just saying, I saw a couple adorable little baby boys that certainly seemed a little light in their white sneakers.

Now on to other, non gay related, but still rather amusing highlights of the show. I’m quite sorry to have missed the afternoon’s puking Gresham cheerleader but the truly dirty songs were mortifying enough. At one point I was certain that a school started their routine with the song from American Beauty. That’s right, the one where a very grown-up and lecherous Kevin Spacey envisions the lustful head cheerleader opening her blouse and revealing red roses. I shudder. Because that’s what truly made these songs inappropriate. Some were so old that the teens probably didn’t even recognize them, but that didn’t mean they weren’t naughty. Besides, what does shaking me all night long have to do with football?

I realize that since I attended mostly the smaller schools that they are also likely not to be near a city, which may account for this. Nevertheless, I was surprised that cheerleaders still looked the same as in my day…my elementary and middle school days that is. I don’t mean the timeless qualities of a tight sweater and a short skirt, but hair aerosoled heavenward in that glorious mallrat tower that was the early 90s. I had to wonder, at the end of the day, why this parade of fantasy is seen as “cool” when something like Dungeons and Dragons is “geeky.”

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