Based on Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same name, Boy Erased tells the story of the aforementioned young man who is outed as gay at the age of 19 and pressured into gay conversion therapy. This trailer provides a glimpse of some of the cruel treatment both by family and the conversion therapy itself. I’d expect the entirety of the film will cross into far worse.
Good news is that Conley was able to write a book reflecting on the experience and move into LGBTQ rights movement in the aftermath. These conversion “therapies” are traumatic crimes that should happen to no one.
Boy Erased also looks to attempt a nuanced look at Conley’s experience, not just a scathing, black-and-white rebuke of everyone involved. Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe play Conley’s parents, and the trailer suggests at least some sympathy towards them despite their decision to pressure their son into conversion therapy. There will also be a significant role played by the head therapist in the conversion program as he and Conley come into conflict.
Conley underwent months of therapy and eventually a two-week intensive intervention. His story and the movie it’s based on will not only tell Conley’s account but the account of those undergoing these events alongside him.
While I fully understand how the importance of religion within a family and their larger community creates a fear of homosexuality, these same people need to understand how the forced repression of a person’s gender and sexual identity causes deep trauma for those they love. Conversion “therapy” is physically and mentally abusive and does no actual good for anyone involved. Here’s hoping Conley’s story reaches some who otherwise may never truly understand the damage of putting people through it. No one deserves to be treated this way for feeling healthy interest in anyone capable of consenting.
Boy Erased releases on November 2.