Crandall, E. M. (2022). Extreme Notions of Self-Annihilation: Boy Erased and the Importance of Accuracy in Narrative Representations of Conversion Therapy. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2568
Because conversion therapy is centered around the erasure of identity and personal experience, narratives that depict it hold an ethical imperative. This thesis identifies the ways in which media representations of conversion therapy have the capacity to both illuminate and erase the trauma it causes. In particular, it focuses on the written and filmic versions of Garrard Conley’s Boy Erased in comparison with other representations of the subject, in order to illustrate how accuracy in reporting takes on special significance in the case of conversion therapy. Ultimately, it argues that the existence of sensationalized, fictional portrayals of conversion therapy within the public sphere serves to deligitimize the recovery work accomplished by personal, factual accounts. It also examines the way that accounts like Boy Erased help the public to recognize that conversion therapy is harmful and pervasive, even without some of the more dramatic elements that define other narratives.