“Out of any movie I’ve made, this is the one people need to talk about – they need to see it,” says Chloë Grace Moretz. “It will change you.”
That might sound like your standard PR-friendly sound bite that gets taught in lesson one at the Hollywood School of Media Training, but in this case we believe it to be infinitely more genuine than that. Why? Because the film in question is The Miseducation of Cameron Post – an adaptation of Emily M. Danforth’s 2012 coming-of-age novel of the same name.
Chloë Grace Moretz – the young actress you’ve seen in Kick-Ass and its sequel, the Carrie remake, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, among other big budget flicks – takes on the title role here; a queer teen caught having sex with her girlfriend at her school prom by the boyfriend she attended it with, only to then be carted off to God’s Promise, a conversion therapy camp in Montana. When it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, it was met with critical praise. So much so that it walked off with the Grand Jury Prize for US Drama – widely regarded as the festival’s highest honour.
“I had basically taken a little bit of a break from acting for a second to figure out where I wanted to be in my career, the content I wanted to put out, and what was so important to me,” Chloë tells us when we ask at what point when reading the script did she know that she needed to be a part of this project. “The first movie that really ticked all the boxes for me and lit a fire under me was Cameron Post. It was really that that made me want to jump into this project and be a part of it – and it was for a multitude of reasons.” The main one, she says, was because she was completely unaware of how much an issue conversion therapy was – and continues to be – in America.
The statistics are heartbreaking: there are currently 700,000 people in America affected by conversion therapy, while it’s estimated a further 77,000 young people will be subjected to the unethical practice in the next five years. There is absolutely no reliable evidence that this pseudoscientific method is effective. In fact, pretty much all respectable scientific and medical experts consider attempting to change someone’s sexuality from bisexual or homosexual to heterosexual through psychological or spiritual means to be seriously harmful. Yet conversion therapy has so far only been banned in 14 states in the US, and that is just when it comes to minors. In the UK, the government is only just looking into banning the practice after years of campaigning by LGBTQ activists.
“It’s an issue that never went away,” Chloë says. “The movie is set in 1993, so in a way you could look at it and think it’s different now, but actually it’s not. If anything, it’s louder, it’s more talked about, and it’s more easily accessible. There are websites now that will help you find any therapist in a 10-mile radius of your home that you can take your kid to tomorrow. So it’s become very readily available and that really shocked me.”
What is even more shocking, Chloë adds, is just how far conversion therapy has its grip. “It’s in every religion, it’s in every socio-economic space, it’s in every race, it’s an incredibly widespread issue.” And this is where the power of art comes in. When Chloë says that this is the one movie of hers that she needs people to see, it’s because it could help mobilise real social change when it comes to the conversation around conversion therapy. “Hopefully, from people becoming educated it’ll help them to become advocates to overturn it and make it illegal in their country and their city.”
When Chloë says that, it’s not even directed at just the LGBTQ community, but people outside of the rainbow who could be completely unaware that these very real issues still persist in society. And The Miseducation of Cameron Post’s secret weapon? A great big emotional punch that would be difficult for anyone to resist connecting with.
Full interview: gaytimes.co.uk