With gay conversion therapy drama The Miseducation of Cameron Post set to hit UK cinemas on September 7, one of the film's stars has revealed how the story's traumatic themes of identity being stripped away by society resonated with his own life.
20-year-old Forrest Goodluck appears opposite Chloë Grace Moretz in the film adaptation of Emily M. Danforth's 2012 novel of the same name as Adam Red Eagle, a teen who identifies as 'winkte' or a two-spirit person – tribal terminology typically applied to a man who acts 'as a woman'.
“Whenever I receive a script to play a native character, I’m usually very hesitant, ‘Oh, what is this going to be? Who is writing this?’ I’m always a little bit on edge,” Forrest explains in Attitude's September Style issue, available to download and in shops now.
“Earlier in my career, I would get calls for parts that were really problematic, written by people who weren’t connected to the culture.
20-year-old Forrest Goodluck stars in 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' as Adam Red Eagle, a teen who identifies as 'winkte' or a two-spirit person.
“But reading this description, knowing that this kid, Adam, was ‘winkte’ was a real ‘whoa’ moment because you never ever see that.
“I’m from three different tribes across the States and like to think that I have a broad education. However, learning about the ‘winkte’ was delving into an aspect of native culture that I’d never paid attention to before.”
The subject of gay conversion therapy isn’t something the young star was well-versed in either.
“Of course, I knew about it,” says 20-year-old Forrest. “You hear about the dark things that have happened to people, but I didn’t know any specifics.”
But, as a native person whose culture has been plundered by prejudice throughout history, Forrest - who landed his first Hollywood role in 2015 period epic The Revenant - insists he can relate.
Forrest Goodluck, shot exclusively by Greg Vaughan for Attitude's September Style issue
“I grew up knowing that there was a Catholic and Western influence attempting to destroy the identity of Indians,” he explains.
“I think the popular phrase back in the day was, ‘Save the man, kill the Indian,’ and a lot of that colonial thought exists [for] the LGBT+ community, attempts to ‘save’ a person by killing an identity that doesn’t fit into a certain narrative.”
During the weeks and months leading up to filming, Forrest met with LGBT+ youngsters who had undergone therapy, and a ‘winkte’ person.
“They told me their story and their struggle, and it was so interesting,” he reveals.
“Did you know that in ancient Lakota culture ‘winkte’ people were celebrated? It was regarded as a really beautiful thing, that a person would identify as a woman and then switch roles, and vice-versa — it was a lot more fluid.
“But that changed in the Seventies or Eighties and ‘winkte’ became the equivalent of ‘faggot’.”
He adds: “Any suppressed culture or identity goes through an act of unconscious conversion in their own right.
“Told they’re different, told they’re less than a person, told they’re not wanted.”
The Miseducation of Cameron Post hits UK cinemas on September 7. Check out Forrest's full shoot and interview in Attitude's September Style issue, out now with a FREE 68-page supplement celebrating 300 issues of Attitude.