PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown spoke with director Joel Edgerton and Boy Erased author Garrard Conley about his memoir on which the new gay conversion therapy drama is based.
Said Conley: “I wanted to show how this was a cultural moment that was part of a larger bigotry in the country…A lot of people that I’ve encountered on my book tour, they say ‘ how is this still happening in 2018?’ And they believe that progress is a straight line and that we’re already there, and it’s just not true…It is just so obvious that people are still struggling all over and not just in the U.S. – all over the world. And the effects of conversion therapy have traveled all over the world.”
Boy Erased recounts Arkansas native Conley’s life growing up in a religious home and being sent away to gay conversion therapy, an ordeal he would survive but which would drastically affect his life.
Longtime Towleroad readers will be familiar with the program Conley attended as the same one that teenager Zach Stark was sent to after he made national headlines in 2005 after sending out a call for help on his MySpace blog.
Conley also read an excerpt of his memoir for our Towleread feature.
The film stars Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe as well as Troye Sivan.
Hedges recently came out as “not totally straight, but also not gay and not necessarily bisexual.” Yesterday, he clarified those remarks in an interview with Ellen DeGeneres: “In sixth grade I had a health teacher who presented the idea of sexuality existing on a spectrum. It’s not really that you exist 100 percent one thing and 100 percent the other, and from that moment on I always identified myself as existing within that spectrum. I see it as something that’s more fluid. It’s not as black and white.”
Sivan, who wrote a new track “Revelation” for the film, said the experience of acting in Boy Erased was revelatory for him as well.
Sivan told Colbert of learning about the experience young men who enter gay conversion therapy go through: “The thing that was most hurtful about it…I remember being so relieved – I’m gay by the way – when I came out to myself, because I was like ‘it’s not something I can change. It’s not something I have to fight any more. It’s just something I have to navigate and accept.’ And so that was the big moment for me, and the second that these kids or sometimes adults arrived at these camps, that was taken away from them and they were told immediately, ‘no, you weren’t born like this. this is a God-shaped hole that you’re trying to fill with these homosexual tendencies.’ Imagining being 15 again when I was at my most vulnerable, and having that put back on me and being set up with that impossible task of trying to change this thing that ultimately is unchangeable, it’s just one of the most damaging things I can imagine.”
Have you seen Boy Erased? What did you think?