Boy Erased: A True Story of Conversion Therapy

SUU’s Pride Alliance hosted a screening of “Boy Erased” as well as a question and answer panel with original writer,  Garrard Conley, on April 12.

Boy Erased told the story of Conley’s journey in understanding his sexuality as he underwent conversion therapy. The story follows his real life and the memoir of the experience as he underwent therapy.

Those in attendance received their own copy of the book before the screening and had the opportunity to ask questions and further discuss the film afterward.

Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to force someone into “becoming” heterosexual. This practice is generally enforced under the guise of religion and often includes beatings and shaming homosexual thoughts.

The film itself portrayed Conley’s experiences and provided a personal look into the experiences of those that undergo conversion therapy. According to Conley, the director of the film even made changes to the portrayal of the therapy so that audiences wouldn’t think it was too far fetched.

“People that don’t know much about conversion therapy get a good sense of what it actually is and how messed up it is,” Israel Contreras, a junior majoring in studio arts, said.

Throughout the film, those in attendance audibly reacted to what was being portrayed on screen. One particular scene involved a teenager being beaten with a bible by his family and peers which got gasps and sounds of disgust from the audience.

After the film, Conley expanded on his decision to write his story. For him, conversion therapy was seen as a normal aspect of life and few people around him truly understand what the experience actually entails.

He stated, “Conversion therapy is a more obvious and literalized form of bigotry around us.”

While the film won’t be shown again on campus, students interested in seeing the film can rent it from the library. Conley also has a four-episode podcast titled UnErased that goes in-depth into the history of conversion therapy.

Story by: Alex Shilling 
Photo Credit: Collin Boyd Shafer