Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family (Paperback)
Not since Blake Bailey's The Splendid Things We Planned has a memoir hit me this deeply. The narrative is like the poetry of Saeed Jones or Andrew McMillan, where the focus is interior. Conley's perspective comes from his body, how it interacts with what's outside it, and how it can be controlled. You will feel each act of nausea, guilt trigger, violence, and relief (when it was permitted) in your bones. I also connected to his teenage reliance on books and videogames, and how fantasy can be comforting when you feel heartbreakingly isolated.
I don't have his Missionary Baptist background, nor have I ever been in ex-gay therapy, but that isn't a prerequisite to connecting with his journey through faith, sexuality, and surviving rape. Conley has invited us in to feel a body's reaction to them.
So read it.
-- Cody— From Cody M. Staff Picks
This book completely put me in shock. This memoir of a boy's survival through Baptist ex-gay therapy in the deep south was so thoroughly detailed with such crystal clear language that I always felt like I was right behind him through his whole story. Conley wrote this beautiful piece with almost no condemnation of any person-- he simply told his story. Boy Erased is simply another masterpiece shining the light on an often forgotten piece of gay culture.
-- Josh— From Josh H. Staff Picks
"The power of Conley's story resides not only in the vividly depicted grotesqueries of the therapy system, but in his lyrical writing about sexuality and love." --Los Angeles Times "This brave and bracing memoir is an urgent reminder that America remains a place where queer people have to fight for their lives... Boy Erased is a necessary, beautiful book." --Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You A beautiful, raw and compassionate memoir about identity, love and understanding.
The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. 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 stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness. By confronting his buried past and the burden of a life lived in shadow, Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds. A movie is in the works starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges, directed by Joel Edgerton and produced by Anonymous Content and Focus Features.
About the Author
Garrard Conley's fiction and nonfiction can be found in Time, Vice, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and on CNN.com, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation writers' conferences. A finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Boy Erased, Conley lives and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.