Garrard Conley on Finding One’s Own Identity in America (VIDEO)

By Sara Clemens | October 18 2017 | College & University Reads

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.


Garrard recently talked to Signature about finding his identity in small-town America, surviving gay conversion therapy, and being part of the LGBTQ community in today’s political climate.



Click here for full transcript of Garrard’s video.


A film adaptation of Boy Erased is in the works, starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges, directed by Joel Edgerton and produced by Anonymous Content and Focus Features.

Boy Erased
A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family

“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