"Boy Erased" - Surviving Conversion Therapy
Lecture / Free admission, please register
As a young man growing up in the Bible Belt, Garrard Conley terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When he was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to “cure” him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life. Through an institutionalized Twelve-Step Program heavy on Bible study, he was supposed to emerge heterosexual, ex-gay, cleansed of impure urges and stronger in his faith in God for his brush with sin. Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.
In his memoir Boy Erased Garrard traces the complex relationships among family, faith, and community. At times heartbreaking, at times triumphant, this memoir is a testament to love that survives despite all odds.
Garrard Conley grew up in a small Arkansan, evangelical-fundamentalist farming community, headed to a liberal arts college a few hours away, completed service for Peace Corps Ukraine, and attained a Master's degree in creative writing and queer theory. He taught literature in Sofia, Bulgaria at the American College. Conley now lives in Brooklyn and teaches in New York City.
His work can be found in TIME, VICE, CNN, Buzzfeed Books, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation Writers' Conferences and has facilitated craft classes for Catapult, Grub Street, Sackett Street Writers Workshop, and the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown.
A movie is in the works starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges, directed by Joel Edgerton and produced by Anonymous Content and Focus Features.
Moderator: Stefan Hippler
Stefan Hippler has recently completed his PhD-Studies with a thesis on New American Adams: Establishing Gay Identity in the Contemporary Novel at the University of Würzburg, where he taught as an Assistant Professor of American Studies for six years. He holds a master's degree in American Studies from the University of Würzburg and a university degree as a teacher for secondary schools for English and Spanish. In 2013, he participated in the BAA 5th International Summer Academy for Doctoral Students in American Studies. In 2014, he was the recipient of the BAA Harvard University Post-Graduate Research Fellowship. Stefan Hippler is co-editor of a volume of essays on Cultures of Solitude: Loneliness – Limitation – Liberation (2017). His research interests include American gay coming-of-age fiction, the contemporary American novel, the American short story, American drama and theater, Gay Studies, Gender Studies, Liminality Studies, Family Studies, and Popular Culture.
Organizers: Bavarian Center for Transatlantic Relations, Secession Verlag für Literatur
(Photo: Garrad Conley ©Colin Boyd Shafer)
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