But im a cheerleader sos

The Nightlight Akron, OH


Tony Pankuch

Education and Outreach Coordinator, Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

But I'm a Cheerleader— From conversion therapy to affirmative care: The history of LGBTQ+ psychology

Tony Pankuch will cover the history of LGBTQ+ psychology, from the rise of so-called “conversion therapies” in the early 20th century through the high-profile gay rights advocacy of the 1970s and subsequent reforms. They will explore how the growing popularity of psychotherapy in the post-WWII era propelled pseudoscientific attempts to change sexual orientation (like those satirically depicted in the film). They will also discuss how gay activists, psychologists, and psychiatrists waged a multifaceted campaign to end conversion therapy and de-pathologize LGBTQ+ identity. Finally, they will end on the current status of conversion therapies within the U.S. and how they are generally viewed within modern psychological and psychiatric science.

The Nightlight Akron, OH

Film Synopsis

A naive teenager is sent to rehab camp when her straitlaced parents and friends suspect her of being a lesbian.

Megan (Natasha Lyonne) considers herself a typical American girl. She excels in school and cheerleading, and she ha.s a handsome football-playing boyfriend, even though she isn't that crazy about him. So she's stunned when her parents decide she's gay and send her to True Directions, a boot camp meant to alter her sexual orientation. While there, Megan meets a rebellious and unashamed teen lesbian, Graham (Clea DuVall). Though Megan still feels confused, she starts to have feelings for Graham.

Photo credit: Lions Gate

About the Speaker

Tony Pankuch is a museum educator, historian, and LGBTQ+ advocate based in Akron, OH. They are the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology, where they have led the development of numerous online and in-person exhibitions and public programs. Recently, they worked on the Cummings Center’s ongoing Sexology: Science & Sensationalism exhibit, which explores the contradictions and curiosities of the long-running publication Sexology magazine. In addition to their work at the Cummings Center, they serve as Co-Chair of the American Alliance of Museums Task Force for Transgender Inclusion. They have led sessions and workshops about LGBTQ+ history at regional and national conferences, including the American Association for State and Local History and the Southeastern Museums Conference.