Boy Erased, Book to Film

Based on a True, Very Disturbing Story

BY: Tiffany Goldstein

Garrard Conley is the brave voice behind the memoir Boy Erased. The novel is the painful reflection on Conley’s struggle between his sexual orientation and living in a conservative Christian household. Conley was born in Memphis and raised in northern Arkansas, where his father served as a Missionary Baptist Pastor. However, it wasn’t until his freshman year in college when another student outed him for being gay. This was when Conley’s life turned upside down.

The subject of homosexuality and Christianity is an on-going religious debate, and many believe same-sex acts are sinful and goes against biblical teachings. Therefore, Conley’s pastor father and mother sent him to a program entitled “Love in Action.” He was sent to this program to make a life-changing decision, whether to listen to the principles of his church or to go along with this conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality.

In hopes to never lose the respect for his family, friends, and God, Conley attended the twelve-step program and bible study. The goal of this program was to convert him back to heterosexual and cleanse him from his “sinful” values. However, the author found the strength within himself to break free and search for forgiveness and acceptance in the controversial world we live in today.

Conley wrote this book to give hope to others facing similar situations and people like himself. In a recent interview with the Arkansas Times, Conley said, “Hold on. Keep reading. Keep learning. Someday you will make it out. But don’t forget where you came from. There are people like you who haven’t made it out, and these people need your help.”

While Boy Erased: A Memoir is a beautiful, compassionate, and raw read, Conley continues to fight for what is right and to expose ex-gay groups and conversion therapy programs. He believes these organizations are causing harm within the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, this form of therapy is banned in only a few states such as Vermont, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon, and District of Columbia.

With the success of Boy Erased: A Memoir, actor, writer, and director Joel Edgerton decided to take this issue of Conversion therapy and Conley’s heartfelt story to the big screen. Actor Lucas Hedges stars as Conley, and Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe are playing his conservative parents.

Boy Erased hits theaters November 2. Be sure to check out Conley’s podcast UnErased, which explores the history of conversion therapy. Also, support the LGBTQ community by visiting the Boy Erased partner organizations like the Trevor Project, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Trans Lifeline, and National Runaway Safeline.