Boy Erased

Boy Erased

A Memoir

eBook - 2016
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"The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small-town Arkansas, Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality as a young man. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to "cure" him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized twelve-step program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and, because of his brush with sin, stronger in his faith in God. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to search for his true self, empathy, and forgiveness. By examining and excavating his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heartbreaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds. "--Jacket.
"A poignant account by a survivor of a church-supported sexual orientation conversion therapy facility that claimed to "cure" homosexuality describes its intense Bible study program and the daily threats of his abandonment by family, friends and God, an experience that transformed the author's relationships and self-understandings, "--NoveList.
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2016
ISBN: 9780698155558 (electronic bk.)
0698155556 (electronic bk.)
Branch Call Number: eBOOK B CONLEY
Characteristics: 1 online resource


From Library Staff

List - Books to Film 2018
Lindsay_ Feb 12, 2018

28 September 2018: The son of a preacher is forced to participate in a gay conversion therapy.

In a follow-up to his critically-praised thriller The Gift, writer/director Joel Edgerton co-stars with Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird) and Nicole Kidman (take your pick) to tell the raw, real-life story that belongs to Garrard Conley, a Southerner who spent his childhood in gay c... Read More »

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Feb 03, 2018

conversion therapy is awful

but this book is almost as awful. A privileged kid lies to and mistreats his beard girlfriend, chooses to go to a day-only conversion therapy, and chooses to stop after a week, and everyone lets him.

I can't imagine a worse spokesman for the cause.

Mar 11, 2017

What slowly struck me as I was reading this book was how short the "reparative" therapy the author undertook was. It was about two weeks, with some "counselling" sessions beforehand.

The book definitely captures the distress for everyone in a fundamentalist family when a son turns out to be gay. And reference is made to how devastating reparative therapy is to its victims, including suicide and probably post-traumatic shock. The interesting thing here is how great the effect was from such a short course of therapy. This therapy can and has gone on for years for some people, and it can be a tremendous blow to one's identity and coping. (One piece that has always made me mad about this therapy is the effect on the women who are married by gay men as they follow through on the therapy. These women's lives are not easy, and their marriages often fail later down the line.)

I agree with another reviewer that it would have been interesting and useful to have heard more about what happened after the therapy. How did the author end up in Bulgaria? Did he manage to fall in love, introduce a partner to his family, become part of a gay community? How has his family come to terms with him being gay? How has his father's career been affected? I would have like to have heard more.

Feb 08, 2017

This first memoir is ragged around the edges. (Spoiler alerts follow.) The author's happy family has holes in it that he's unaware of. The son of a Missionary Baptist preacher in Alabama who also runs an auto dealership where the employees pray daily, including the author, who works there in the summer, he's uncomfortable in that role. His mother to whom he's close kowtows to his father. He has a girlfriend he's grown up with; their church expects a wedding soon. But he knows it's fake, as he's attracted to guys. And his father's clear this is a sin. He can't wait to go off to college, where he pretends he doesn't go to church. On his first day he meets a man who soon rapes him. Soon after, the same man outs him to his family. His family is naive enough not to ask how the man knows, or to ask Garrard if it's true. They take it for granted, and hunt for a cure. He's enrolled in a two week day program based on the 12 step program, and gets more and more appalled--and attracted to one of the men. Finally, before the two weeks are up, he leaves. His mother understands, but he gets blamed when his father gets blamed for his actions. I don't know if my negative reaction comes from my faith background's tolerance or my parents' tolerance. He's now living in Sofia, Bulgaria, teaching writing, and working in LGBTQ affairs. From this I'm guessing he got himself straightened out from his own point of view. Well written, and I learned how painful life like that can be.

Dec 04, 2016

A beautifully written and harrowing testament to the damage caused by so-called gay conversion therapy.

Cynthia_N Sep 03, 2016

This was an interesting read. Conley doesn't go for shock value. This is the story of how he was outed to his family, how they tried to cure him, how it didn't work, and how nothing has been the same since then.

Chapel_Hill_AmandaG Jun 18, 2016

This was beautifully written and an extraordinary story that really deserved to be told. I appreciated that he didn't make his parents the enemies. He worked hard to portray them as well meaning people who only wanted to their best for their son. My only complaint is that I would have liked a little more detail about what happened after therapy, especially about how he and his family were changed by those two weeks.


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