Conversion therapy narratives seem to be popular nowadays. (Probably because our vice president actually believes in that hateful nonsense.) We’ve seen it recently in an episode of Riverdale, the upcoming film The Miseducation of Cameron Post will deal with conversion therapy and as we see from the new Boy Erased trailer, director Joel Edgerton isn’t shying away from depicting the abusive practice.
Boy Erased stars Lucas Hedges as Jared, a gay teen. His parents, Nancy (played by Nicole Kidman) and Marshall (Russell Crowe), can’t handle it. So his father, a Baptist preacher, sends him off to a conversion therapy program (led by Victor Sykes, played by Edgerton).
The film also features Troye Sivan, which may be surprising to those who only know Sivan from his music. But he actually started out as an actor — you can see him as James in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the Spud trilogy opposite John Cleese.
While, as shown in the Boy Erased trailer, the film is upfront about the abuse people in conversion therapy go through, Edgerton tells Entertainment Weekly the film isn’t only about misery. He says, “The film satisfies the dramatic and salacious stuff that interested me, but it also had an emotional resonance to it that I felt didn’t just make it a dark and nihilistic story. Garrard [Conley]’s story is so full of redemption.”
The film is based on Conley’s memoir of the same name. Conley was outed during his first year at college, and his parents sent him to Love in Action, a conversion therapy program that’s been going since 1973. (In 2012, Love in Action changed its name to Restoration Path.)
Edgerton says he based his portrayal of the Love in Action head on John Smid, the organization’s director until 2008. Three years later he admitted that he’d “never met a man who experienced a change from homosexual to heterosexual.” Smid himself came out in 2011 and married his husband in 2014.