Mother of Boy Erased author says trying to convert her son was ‘biggest mistake of her life’

Garrard and Martha Conley at the Boy Erased New York screening in 2018

The mother of Garrard Conley, author of Boy Erased, has said that putting her son through conversion therapy was the “biggest mistake of her life”.

Boy Erased is based on the true story of conversion therapy survivor Garrard Conley, who, as a teenager, was sent to a Christian conversion camp to “cure” him of his homosexuality.

Conley wrote about his harrowing experiences in a 2016 memoir—which served as the source material for the 2018 film of the same name, written by Joel Edgerton. 

In an opinion piece for the Miami Herald, Conley’s mother Martha has opened up about her son’s traumatising experience, and said that sending him to conversion therapy was the “biggest mistake of her life”.

She wrote: “My husband and I pressured Garrard to change his sexual orientation.

“At the time, we didn’t know about the scientific consensus that no therapy can change a child from gay to straight. Knowing now what I did not know then — that many young people who experience conversion therapy do not survive it — I am grateful every day that my son is alive.

“No decision I have ever made will haunt me more.”

Last month, Trump-appointed judges reversed a vital conversion therapy ban in Florida, branding it “unconstitutional”.

The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals sided with two therapists who sought to argue that bans in the city of Boca Raton and Palm Beach County violated their free speech rights.

Martha wrote: “Last month’s decision was a travesty, and I pray that it will be corrected. So far, every other federal court to hear a challenge has upheld these laws.

“But no matter what happens in the courts, those of us with firsthand experience of how conversion therapy breaks children and destroys families must speak out.”

She added: “I am extremely proud of Garrard for sharing his story. Because of him, many other parents will not make the same mistake.

“But nothing can erase the pain of knowing that my husband and I caused harm to the person we love more than anyone on this Earth: our own child.

“That is a pain I would not wish on anyone, and that is why I am committed to doing all I can to ensure that every LGBT+ young person knows that they are born perfect.”