The topic on LGBTQ is not widely discussed in the society yet it is a societal issue which should be addressed. The different cultures and religious beliefs in families cause suffering to homosexual individuals who are forced to hide their identity and conform to what the society views as right. Gerrard Conley in his memoir addresses the theme of conformity on how he had to face various challenges because he was homosexual. The primary challenge was because he had to choose between his religious family and his feelings. The book outlines the sexual inequality that exists in society and the need to address LGBTQ rights.
In 2016 Garrard Conley wrote his memoir book titled Boy erased. Being brought up in Arkansas Christian parents were fundamentalist and were rigid and narrow-minded about the concept of sexuality. His parents expected him to adhere to their desires and abide by the Christian upbringing. The book takes the readers down the memory lane back to 2004 when Conley was 19 years old and homosexual who was living in South America. Because of his condition, his parent signed him to a reorientation program at a fundamentalist Christian institution known as love in action (LIA). The main message by the preacher in the church was to reject worldly pleasures and depend on religious devotion. When he was in high school Conley had a girlfriend; however they broke up soon after finishing high school. The primary cause for the breakup was because her girlfriend wanted to have sex with him and he could not go through with the act. His father was a car salesman, but he was undergoing training to be a Baptist church pastor.
At LIA Conley became friends with another patient and he grew romantic feelings towards him. The therapy sessions required them to declare homosexuality as a sinful and immoral act. The therapy sessions formed a hatred feeling in Conley. During his freshman years, Conley became friends with one of the religious students called David. David later raped Conley and called his parents to inform them that their son was a homosexual. His parents gave him an option of changing his sexuality, or they would stop funding his education. It was because of his parents’ message that made Conley attend reorientation therapy on weekends. Due to his sexual preference, her mother concerned and he took him to the doctor to be tested on his hormonal level. His parents had believed that maybe the main reason for his sexual orientation was because of hormonal imbalance. The emotional destructiveness at LIA made Conley to leave the program because it was too much for him to handle.
In his book Conley outlines that it was by his choice to attend the conversion therapy, the primary drive was because he had to choose to stay with his family and to go to therapy or to leave the family for good. The main reason that held him behind was that he believed in God since he had been raised in a Christian family and he thought maybe prayer would change him as his parents anticipated. Being the only child of religious parents, Conley has a dilemma between his sexual identity and his religious upbringing just like any other LGBTQ Conley is unsure about the faith he has known since he was a kid and the God that they are being asked to pray to at the LIA program. His struggle is similar to those of any other LGBTQ who is exposed to questioning the faith of their religious backgrounds.
Conversion therapy has been the primary mechanism which most religious parents and communities have depended on when handling children who are homosexual. In the book, Conley voluntarily agrees to join LIA with an assumption that his religious beliefs will fix his sexual orientation. The therapy sessions are intense and bring a lot of depression and stress to the patients. Conley outlines that at the meetings the alcoholic individuals were exposed to the notion that they are criminals and there I nothing they can do about it unless they pray to God to redeem them. The case is not different for the homosexuals as they are forced to deny their feelings and declare them ungodly and immoral to society. The primary foundation of the teachings at LIA were based on Judeo-Christianity which outlined a 12 step process to transforming from alcoholism and other ill issues such as bestiality which were categorized in the same group s homosexuality.
Due to his father’s ordination and him dropping out of the LIA program, Conley moved in a different place. His mother visited him because of their close bond. During her visits, they could read various books with the theme of homosexuality such as “where does a mother go to resign?” which talks about a Christian mother who had lost her son to the sin of homosexuality. From the visits, his bond with his mother grew just like that of every LGBTQ who have a close relationship with their parents. The relationship with his father, on the other hand, is not good since he was ordained as the pastor of the Baptist church. The church stands on firm principles that homosexuality is an immoral behavior which should not be encouraged in society.
The more significant portion of the book outlines the conformance which Conley was forced to accept and change to the needs of the society. The use of conversion therapy is one of the critical practice which is used by religious groups and parents who take homosexuality as a sin. Conley outlines the depression that the patients in such groups fight and that there was a time that he was suicidal because of being ashamed of who he was. The conversion therapy brings out an image that is a homosexual makes one be an outcast since seclusion has to be used to reorient the individual to the ethical way of life. Conformance is also portrayed in the book since being a son of a religious father, Conley did not want to blow his father’s opportunity of being ordained a pastor of the Baptist church. In the book, Conley outlines how the religious people in Arkansas viewed homosexuality as a sin and could link his sexual orientation to his father who wanted to be a pastor. It is because of the religious perspective which forced Conley to move out of his parents’ house to avoid bringing shame to them especially his father. His parents in the book are shown as being individuals who cared for his welfare through in a disregarded way because they fail to recognize that sexual identity is an individual’s perspective and cannot be dictated. There care is expressed when they asked Conley to join the Christian conversion therapy program and also when they took him to the doctor to test his hormones.
Gay conversion therapy is condemned as unethical and damaging by peak psychology bodies internationally such in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. United Nations terms the act as torture and ill-treatment of individuals because of their sexual orientation. The Un terms it as unethical, unscientific and ineffective and in some instance similar to torture. The ineffectiveness of the program is shown by the high number of dropouts in the program and the high number of suicidal action b those who have been exposed to the experience.
The main aim of Conley writing the book s to raise awareness of the existing mistreatment that LGBTQ individuals are facing in society today despite being a democratic society. His main concern is on the south Christianity aspect of individuals who are static and ignorant about the changing aspect of the community in terms of sexual identity and other issues.
Like racism and any other form of discrimination, LGBTQ discrimination should be discouraged in society. There is a need for awareness campaigns to save the lives of those individuals who are still being exposed to conversion therapy. Religious leaders and Christians need to be educated on the aspect of sexual identity and the need to recognize the existence of LGBTQ in society. The government should develop policies and legislative measures to cater to the needs of LGBTQ individuals in the community to avoid being exposed to ill-treatment such as conversion therapy. The Boy Erased book serves as an excellent background to outline the underlying struggles that LGBTQ individuals in society go through. If the society values themselves to be moral, then it is upon them to eliminate the immoral act of forcing individuals to go through conversion therapy.