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At last month’s Brews & Books discussion, Zandbroz staff and their hosted attendees selected Boy Erased: A Memoir for their April meeting. Tomorrow, its author, Garrard Conley, will be joining the conversation. This event is free and open to anyone who wishes to join. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.
The memoir, which was released by Riverhead Books last year, chronicles Conley’s life in small-town Arkansas as the son of a Baptist pastor. Having grown up conflicted about his sexual orientation, Conley was outed to his parents at nineteen and attended a Twelve-Step Program meant to cure him of his homosexuality and bring him closer to God. Fearful of being shunned by his friends and family, Conley tried to embrace the program, but ultimately realized he could not—and should not—be cured.
Boy Erased was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and was even chosen by Oprah Winfrey as one of the Top Ten Memoirs of 2016. It was featured on Buzzfeed’s list of Best Nonfiction Books of 2016 and Pride.com’s 15 Must-Read LGBT Books of 2016.
The Los Angeles Times has said, “The power of Conley’s story resides not only in the vividly depicted grotesqueries of the therapy system, but in his lyrical writing about sexuality and love.” Poet and author Garth Greenwell has described Boy Erased as a “brave and bracing memoir” and “an urgent reminder that America remains a place where queer people have to fight for their lives.”
Conley has taught literature at The American College of Sofia in Bulgaria. His work has been published in many publications and media outlets, including TIME, VICE, CNN.com, Buzzfeed Books, and Virginia Quarterly Review. He now lives and teaches writing workshops in Brooklyn, NY.
Last year, Conley wrote an article for VICE entitled “Trump’s America Includes Gay Conversion Therapy” and an essay for TIME entitled “GOP’s Support of Conversion Therapy is a Death Sentence.”
Among his many writings for Literary Hub, he has written “How Surviving ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy Made Me a Better Writer.” In this piece he explains, “I learned to truly empathize with another individual’s struggle, to view every minute detail of a human life as precious, often related but not always bound to a moment of clear catharsis… I began to confront my parents about what had happened to me, to argue with my father about his views on the Bible, to sit in the uncomfortable places I had carefully avoided for so long.”
– Särah Nour