Boy Erased

Boy Erased

A Memoir

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A beautiful, raw, and compassionate memoir from a survivor of 'ex-gay' therapy. The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life, Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. At nineteen, he was outed to his parents and forced to make a life-changing decision. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on intense Bible study, he would potentially emerge heterosexual, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in God for his brush with sin. But it didn't quite go that way; instead Garrard went on a harrowing journey on his search for identity, for love and understanding, and emerged on the other side transformed. By confronting his buried past, Garrard has charted the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heart-breaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives in the face of tragedy.
Publisher: New York, New York : Riverhead Books, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780735213463
Characteristics: 340 pages ;,22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Nov 27, 2018

I grabbed this book because I saw they were making a movie adaptation from it and recently the books made movies have been some pretty great reads. (I am of the camp that believes books are better than the movies 99.95% of the time. #SorryNotSorry #Truth) This is a memoir about a nineteen year old who was subjected to "conversion" therapy - a way to 'pray the gay' out of him. I won't get into my feelings on the topic in this post (although, if you are interested, let me know and I am more than willing to share my thoughts on the subject), but suffice it to say I found this a very interesting read. At first I felt like it was a little slow and hard to stick with, but you have to remember - this is a real story! This isn't being dramatized or embellished to sell more copies. When you take the time to really sit and ponder the damage that this type of thinking has done to men and women, boys and girls, it is astonishing (and sickening!). Folks in liberal, progressive communities may be shocked to learn that there are still 77,000 people in conversion therapy across America. Hopefully this book (and subsequent movie) will shed some light on the topic and get people talking. Major props to Garrard for opening up about his experience. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

nwhite1 Nov 06, 2018

I'm definitely adding this to my To Read list after seeing the trailer for the film. I love that movies have become one of the best ways to find great books to read.

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.

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.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top