All it takes is one person.
Small town Arkansas born preacher’s son Garrard Conley was raised being told that being gay was a sin. After being outed to his parents, he was sent to conversion therapy at a place called “Love and Action,” which attempted to turn him straight. He made it through that traumatizing experience, and wrote a memoir: Boy Erased. Conley only had one person who helped him realize his validity, his humanity, and he believes that one person is all it takes.
Conley’s memoir truly “outed” the truth behind conversion therapy, and despite his desire to get his story out, he was initially a bit hesitant to allow Joel Edgerton to direct it as a film. He was perplexed as to why a straight man like Edgerton would want to tell his experience of attending and surviving gay conversion therapy. Conley wanted to ensure sincerity with the film, and sent Edgerton a 4-page document on LGBTQ+ representation to make sure the film would properly embody the story and the voice for the LGBTQ+ community. He elaborates on that here:
Making the film and getting to know the actors truly collided with Conley’s life. Russel Crowe, who plays Conley’s father in the film, spent a month corresponding with Conley’s father via text, and even flew a private jet to visit his church in Arkansas.
Lucas Hedges (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA) plays Garrard (named Jared in the film), who was initially starstruck when meeting him in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Here, he chats about that first meeting:
The film was actually originally written with a much different, “sweeter” ending. “It still feels like I’m in that place with my dad,” Conley states. He elaborates on that here:
“This film has the power to open minds as well as hearts,” says We Live Entertainment. And in reference to Conley’s father, “he’s not completely there yet,” Conley states, but he no longer preaches that being LGBTQ+ is a sin, but “I wish he were further along.”
“The more this gets into media… at least its being talked about,” Conley states.
For more with Garrard Conley, check out his recent interview on Queery with Cameron Esposito:
To learn more about the history of conversion therapy in the United States, check out UnErased, a podcast from Stitcher and Focus Features:
About the film:
Director/writer Joel Edgerton’s newest film centers on Jared (Lucas Hedges, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA), the 19-year-old son of a small town Baptist pastor. After being outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russel Crowe), Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a gay conversion therapy program – or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith. Based on Garrard Conley’s true story, BOY ERASED is a gripping exploration of a young man’s struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity.
View the trailer:
Where to see it: