Escape

Garrard Conley

Garrard Conley is the author of the acclaimed memoir Boy Erased, a beautiful, raw and compassionate memoir about identity, love and understanding. Now a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges, directed by Joel Edgerton. “Every sentence of the story will stir your soul” (O Magazine).

Coming of age as the son of a Baptist pastor in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted by his sexuality; he had never even met another gay person. At age nineteen, his worst fear came true when he was outed to his parents. They gave him an ultimatum: he could either be shipped to a “conversion therapy” facility in a hope to “cure” him of his homosexuality, or he would lose his family, his friends, and his God. He chose the facility, a decision that would lead him through a brutally institutional Twelve-Step Program. He was supposed to emerge cleansed of impure urges, stronger in his Christian faith, and—most importantly—heterosexual. Instead, Conley developed the strength to search for his true identity and to forgive his family.

Conley’s bestselling memoir, Boy Erased, traces the complex relationships between identity, faith, and community in a testament to the tenacity of love. A humane, poetic glimpse at a world hidden to many, Conley shows all sides of his family—good and bad—with courage and compassion, even as he depicts his own heartbreaking story of survival.

Boy Erased thrust Conley onto the national stage as the public gained increasing awareness of conversion therapy facilities, which he furthers through his work as one of the creators and produces of the podcast UnErased, which explores the history of conversion therapy in America through interviews, historical documents, and archival materials provided by the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.

A popular speaker, he lectures at schools and venues across the country on radical compassion, writing through trauma, and what it means to grow up gay in the South. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation Writers’ Conferences and has facilitated classes for Catapult, Sackett Street Writers Workshop, and the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown. He is also currently the memoir instructor for GrubStreet’s Memoir Incubator program. His work can be found in TIMEVICECNNBuzzFeedVirginia Quarterly Review, and The Huffington Post, among other places, and he was recently named a Lambda Award Finalist for memoir/autobiography. He lives in New York.