HomeMoviesHow 'Boy Erased' Brought Forth The Gripping Reality Of Gay Conversion Therapy...

    How ‘Boy Erased’ Brought Forth The Gripping Reality Of Gay Conversion Therapy On The Big Screen In 2018

    Every year in June, the world celebrates Pride Month, and everything from the streets to the brand logos gets magically adorned in rainbows. However, as shiny as it all may appear, the stigma around attached to homosexuality and queerness is far from being completely eradicated even in the most developed parts of the world.

    While many still believe that homosexuality is an illness, some others also resort to conversion therapy as the solution to it. Even after decades of laws and social causes aiming for inclusivity for the queer community, the problem persists. While many such stories are untold, a film released more than a decade ago did a commendable job of bringing to life a heartbreaking real story of a real person. As we celebrate pride month, here’s an ode to a film that managed to touch upon a sensitive topic with immense grace.

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    “Uncomfortably Real” Story Told In ‘Boy Erased’ Touched Millions On Hearts After Its Release In 2018

    Still from 'Boy Erased'
    Still from ‘Boy Erased’

    Focus Features took the onus of turning Garrard Conley’s critically acclaimed memoir into a wonderful film titled ‘Boy Erased’, which brought forth the melancholy of a man forced to undergo conversion therapy as a teenager. The movie dives deep into the controversial practice while also narrating with immense detail the harrowing journey of a young man forced to confront his identity and his family’s beliefs.

    Adorned by a stellar cast, the film managed to captivate minds and hearts alike after its release. The film starred Lucas Hedges as Jared, the 19-year-old son of a Baptist pastor, played by Russell Crowe. Nicole Kidman took on the role of Jared’s mother, whose love for her son is tested by their religious convictions.

    When the teenager comes out of the closet, it shatters his family’s world. Faced with the ultimatum of losing his family or undergoing conversion therapy, Jared reluctantly chooses the latter. The choice sets the stage for a deeply moving exploration of faith, identity, and resilience by a boy who has just begun to understand the world and its cruel ways.

    The film also took an inclusive approach by starring openly gay singer-songwriter Troye Sivan, who plays one of Jared’s fellow camp attendees. Sivan has described the filming experience as “dark” and “uncomfortably real,” because of the intense emotional weight of the story.

    “We were given the real source materials that they used to give kids when they would arrive at the camp,” Sivan revealed in an interview with 97.1 AMP Radio at the time. “I would just kind of sit there flicking through all this stuff imagining, you know, what it must have been like, and you know, it’s really heavy,” he said.

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    The Real-Life Inspiration Behind ‘Boy Erased’

    Still from 'Boy Erased'
    Still from ‘Boy Erased’

    The moving film was inspired by Garrard Conley’s memoir, wherein he recounted his own experiences with conversion therapy in Arkansas. The period he went through that ordeal has been described as being part of a “full-on cult” by Conley. He eventually overcame the struggles and currently lives with his husband in New York.

    Though he is far removed from the trauma of his teenage years, the scars remain a crucial part of his narrative. That is perhaps why his story being told was an imperative step for the benefit of the queer community across the world.

    Conversion therapy, a practice that aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, still widely persists in many parts of the world despite widespread condemnation from major health associations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The legality of conversion therapy for minors in the U.S. varies by state, with a majority having laws in place that ban it.

    The release of ‘Boy Erased’ naturally received mixed reactions from the viewers. Based on a highly controversial issue, it was naturally looked down upon by many, while also held in high regard by some others, who lauded it as an impressive addition to the growing body of films that address the struggles and triumphs of the LGBTQ community.

    Dusty Ray Bottoms, a popular contestant from RuPaul’s Drag Race, also spoke up in favor of the film during its release, while also sharing her own harrowing experience with conversion therapy. “It is both moving and encouraging to see this story — that is a hard reality for so many — be told so genuinely and honestly,” she said.

    As Pride Month celebrates diversity and the ongoing fight for equality, ‘Boy Erasedis a film that deserves a revisit as a timely reminder of the battles still being fought by the LGBTQ community. With a stellar cast, a gripping story, and a profound message, the film was no less than a cultural moment.

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    Aishwarya is a Senior Sub-Editor at First Curiosity. Working as a news writer for over 3 years, she has written on an array of things for a couple of media houses in different capacities. With writing as her outlet, she is now exploring the world of art and glamour. Her love for films and writing stems from her fondness for words and all things artsy. An avid reader and writer alike, Aishwarya likes to delve into any and all forms of art.

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