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BOY ERASED

A Note From Author Garrard Conley
Fourteen years have passed since my time in conversion therapy at Love in Action, yet the sights and sounds and textures of my experience there remain as vivid as ever: the sheen of the laminated Twelve Steps on the facility's stark white walls, the cadence of my counselors' instructions, the feel of the padded chairs against my white button-down shirt. Fourteen years have not completely erased the pain of my trauma, but they have given me a great deal of insight. My father no longer plays the villain and I the victim. The Love in Action staff no longer plays the predictable role of dictator. My mother is no longer simply a preacher's wife trapped between two impossible extremes. Our stories have become, like all stories when carefully considered, all too human.

When Joel Edgerton, Lucas Hedges, and co-producer/actor David Craig visited my family's home in Arkansas to conduct early research for an adaptation of my memoir, I saw my insider perspective reflected in the way these outsiders spoke earnestly to my Baptist parents. My story-and my family's story-was taken seriously. No longer fodder for satire or skits, no longer seen as an isolated small-town concern, conversion therapy became, in that living room, a tragic practice whose roots have been in the country since its colonial foundations, and whose long-lasting negative effects have altered not just the lives of 'ex-gay' patients but also those of their families and friends. Prejudice, whether you are the one wielding it or receiving it, damages all.

It is my hope that the Boy Erased film continues the project of my memoir. By telling my story, we want to give words of solidarity to those who have experienced conversion therapy. But equally important to our project is the question of how this kind of bigotry can be perpetuated by people who, at their core, love one another. We hope to provide some context for viewers to understand that these kinds of social injustices aren't always carried out by monsters, but by people close to us, tragic figures whose decency is often outstripped by their actions. "I want to convince your father what he did was wrong," Joel said to me on the ride back to the airport. "And I want to do it in a language he and others like him might understand."

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