Gay Conversion Therapy “On the surface, it looks totally insane I know, but it’s so deeply entrenched there that they think that everyone else is kind of insane.”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Garrard Conley was Ryan Tubridy’s guest, talking about his memoir, ‘Boy Erased’, which Ryan described as “a raw collection of his experiences of gay conversion therapy as a teenager in small-town Arkansas where religion was at the forefront of life and being gay was the ultimate sin for most people.”  The book was published in 2016 and has garnered much attention and acclaim, making Oprah’s top 100 memoirs, and is soon to become a movie starring Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman.

Garrard spoke to Ryan about his life growing up with a Baptist preacher father in a community that lived by strict religious rules.

Credit: http://garrardconley.com/

“It was so prevalent that even in my high school on the day that we were supposed to learn about Darwin, (the teacher) decided to bring in the cheerleaders to do their cheer routine and part of their cheer routine was to unfold the confederate flag so you know, it sounds like a joke…  On the surface, it looks totally insane I know, but it’s so deeply entrenched there that they think that everyone else is kind of insane.”

Garrard said he knew that he was gay at around the age of 9 or 10.

“Probably around 3rd grade I started to realise what I was and I had a teacher, Mr Smith, who was just too hot to ignore!…  You start to realise pretty early on and you’re like, uh oh, what do I do now!”

Garrard described a harrowing experience of being outed to his parents by his rapist while in college.

“David was someone in school that I trusted…  He raped me one night and I had no control over my body at that point.  Right after he raped me he told me that he’d raped a 14-year-old kid in his youth group so in my mind all the bigotry that I had heard you know growing up which said that gay people were paedophiles and they were perverts suddenly was confirmed for me in a very strange way and I just thought, oh my God, if this is what gay sex is then I don’t want anything to do with it…  Then David, in order to make sure that I never told anyone what he’d done… called my parents, he outed me.”

Garrad’s father gave him an ultimatum, either attend conversion therapy or be cast out of the family.

“I didn’t want to lose God as I knew him, I didn’t want to lose my family…  It was like either I cut off everything I’ve ever known or I go do this thing and I guess there was a part of me that thought it would really work.  I’d prayed on my knees every night for the past decade before that, to change myself and so it didn’t feel that different…  One of the difficulties is reconstructing that time period because it seems so insane that I ever agreed to it now.”

Click here to listen to Garrad’s chat with Ryan in full.

© The Listener 2018

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