by Garrard Conley
Garrard Conley’s memoir, titled Boy Erased, shares his story of being sent to a gay conversion therapy institution as a nineteen-year-old growing up in the south. Garrard grows up in a very conservative town with parents who are very religious, his father being a Baptist minister. The story begins with Garrard contemplating how “far” to go with his girlfriend, Chloe, but he is constantly struggling with a nagging feeling within, saying it doesn’t feel right to be with her. He eventually cuts off all communication with her shortly after evading a night that had the potential for them to have sex at her house. Garrard then goes away to college and is raped by an older student, David. After feeling rebuffed by Garrard, David later calls Garrad’s parents to share that their son is gay while also telling most of the students at the school. Garrard’s Mom comes and picks him up from school the minute they find out. She and her husband decide the only recourse is to have God “get this evil” out of him. They enroll him in a “ex-gay conversion” therapy institute. Garrard captures the horrific experience and the way he comes to terms with his sexuality and escapes the ultra-right staff at the “Love in Action” – LIA, where counselors and ministers worked to guilt those who were sent there to escape their evil ways. Frightening to think this is real and not fiction. I hear the book will become a movie with Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe in the fall.