Boy Erased Book Summary - Boy Erased Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Boy Erased summary

Garrard Conley

A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family

4.4 (32 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley is a memoir about his experience growing up in a religious community and being sent to conversion therapy. It provides a firsthand account of the damaging effects of these practices and inspires empathy and understanding for those who have been through similar struggles.

Table of Contents

    Boy Erased
    Summary of 6 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 6

    The ex-gay movement taught that homosexuality was a sinful yet curable addiction, just like alcoholism.

    For many of us, young adulthood is a time of freedom and experimentation. But it’s not like that for everyone. In fact, at the tender age of just 19, the author Garrard Conley was engaging in the very opposite of self-discovery. Instead, he was learning how to erase an important part of his identity.

    This erasure began in 2004 when he attended an intensive two-week program that promised to cure him of his “addiction.” The program providers were a fundamentalist Christian organization called Love in Action. The “addiction” the program would treat was Conley’s sexuality – his attraction to other men.

    Love in Action was part of a wider umbrella organization known as Exodus International. With an international reach and operating in countries as far-flung as Brazil, Australia, the Netherlands and the Philippines, Exodus International was the world’s largest ex-gay organization.

    The ex-gay movement’s mission was to propagate the idea that homosexuality was an unnatural perversion created by the devil. The movement believed that people could be “cured” of their sexual orientation and made straight – just as God intended – by participating in intensive programs such as the one Conley attended.

    The Love in Action course consisted of a 12-step program for participants to follow on their journey to “recovery.” These 12 steps revolved around the principle that homosexuality was a sin akin to pedophilia and bestiality. For instance, when Conley browsed Love in Action’s website before joining up, he was shocked to read that homosexuals were individuals with no self-control, whose proclivities would eventually lead them to have sex with animals if they did not cure themselves.

    Moreover, Love in Action equated homosexuality to damaging addictions such as gambling and alcoholism. In other words, the program presented itself as a sort of Alcoholics Anonymous for individuals who wanted a way out of their homosexuality. When Conley first arrived at the program center, he was told that he was using the sin of homosexuality to fill a void in his life, just as other people used drugs and alcohol to curb feelings of emptiness. What he needed to do, the program leader told him, was to renounce homosexuality and fill the void with God instead.

    Though his time in the ex-gay movement was relatively brief, Conley’s experiences with Love in Action would haunt him for the next decade of his life.

    Want more?
    Read or listen to the key ideas
    from 7,000+ titles

    Key ideas in Boy Erased

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Boy Erased about?

    Boy Erased (2016) explores the author’s experiences within the ex-gay movement: a community that seeks to “cure” homosexuality. Detailing the cruel methodology of conversion therapy and examining the author’s relationship with his devout parents, the blinks investigate the impact of fundamentalist Christian ideology on LGBT people and their families.

    Boy Erased Review

    Boy Erased (2016) by Garrard Conley sheds light on the dark world of gay conversion therapy and the devastating impacts it can have on individuals and families. Here's why this book deserves your attention:

    • Through Conley's raw and honest account, readers gain an intimate understanding of the emotional and psychological torment experienced within conversion therapy.
    • With deep empathy and compassion, the book explores themes of self-acceptance, family dynamics, and the search for personal identity.
    • The book's unflinching narrative challenges societal norms and raises crucial questions about the ethics and efficacy of conversion therapy, keeping readers engrossed from start to finish.

    Best quote from Boy Erased

    The program dictated that there could be no physical contact or hugging between program participants, and allowed for quick handshakes only.

    —Garrard Conley
    example alt text

    Who should read Boy Erased?

    • Anyone interested in challenging true-life stories
    • Those looking for an insight into Christian fundamentalism
    • People interested in learning more about bigotry toward the LGBT community

    About the Author

    Conley is a survivor of conversion therapy and a speaker and activist campaigning to end the practice. Boy Erased was a New York Times bestseller.

    Categories with Boy Erased

    Book summaries like Boy Erased

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    31 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    Boy Erased FAQs 

    What is the main message of Boy Erased?

    The main message of Boy Erased is the power of self-discovery and acceptance in the face of adversity.

    How long does it take to read Boy Erased?

    The reading time for Boy Erased varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Boy Erased a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Boy Erased is a powerful book that offers a thought-provoking perspective on identity, faith, and acceptance. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of Boy Erased?

    Garrard Conley is the author of Boy Erased.

    What to read after Boy Erased?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Boy Erased, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Stonewall by Martin Duberman
    • The Glass Closet by John Browne
    • Break the Cycle by Dr. Mariel Buqué
    • Beyond Culture by Edward Hall
    • Retrain Your Brain by Seth J. Gillihan
    • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
    • Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale and Stan Redding
    • From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks
    • The Age of AI by Henry Kissinger
    • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman