Boy Erased, a major new film based on a true story about a gay teenager who is forced to undergo conversion therapy, has opened in the US.
The family drama stars Lucas Hedges as Jared Eamons, the son of a Baptist preacher in a small American town, who is outed to his parents, played by Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe.
The 19-year-old is pressured to attend a conversion therapy programme to change his sexuality or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and church. The film is based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir about his experiences as a young man.
Hedges, who was nominated for an Oscar in 2016 for Manchester By The Sea, and Kidman recently appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres show to promote Boy Erased. The 21-year-old star spoke about his own sexual fluidity.
“In sixth grade, I had a health teacher, and he presented the idea of sexuality existing on a spectrum. It’s not really that you exist 100 percent one thing and 100 percent the other,” he told DeGeneres.
“From that moment on I always identified myself as existing within that spectrum and I see it as something that’s more fluid. It’s not as black and white,” the 21-year-old Hedges added.
While some have criticized Boy Erased for sanitising the main character’s sexuality and making it “safe” for non-queer audiences, others have praised Joel Edgerton’s film for bringing an important conversation into the mainstream,
Earlier this year, the Williams Institute estimated that around 700,000 LGBTQ adults in the US have received conversion therapy at some point in their lives, including about 350,000 who received it as adolescents.
The World Psychiatric Association and many other mental health bodies have asserted that trying to “cure” LGBTQ people doesn’t work and is both dangerous and unethical. The practice has been linked to causing mental health issues, including suicide. The UK government has announced its plans to ban conversion therapy. In April, the Psychological Society of South Africa (PsySSA) reaffirmed its condemnation of conversion therapy.
Boy Erased is set to be released in South Africa in February 2019. A new trailer has been released, which you can watch below.