Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’ In ‘Cameron Post,’ ‘Boy Erased’ Is Far From A Thing Of The Past
by Neil J. Young
August 25, 2018
Two new movies are shining a much-needed spotlight on the practice of gay “conversion therapy,” also known as the attempt to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of LGBTQ individuals.
In “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” released earlier this month, Chloë Grace Moretz plays Cameron, an 11th grader whose parents send her off to a boarding school that claims it will “cure” her same-sex desires after they catch her with another girl. “Boy Erased,” coming out this November, stars Lucas Hedges as Jared, the son of a Baptist minister who is forced into a “conversion therapy” program after he’s outed to his parents.
Given the rather broad support for LGBTQ rights and the general cultural acceptance of homosexuality today, it might be tempting to view the appearance of these two movies in 2018 as some esoteric, art house exploration of a bygone era or disappearing subculture. “Miseducation” is set in the now-distant year of 1993, long before “Will & Grace,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and the legalization of same-sex marriage. And “Boy Erased” takes place in the world of small-town South, fundamentalist Christianity.
But the subject of both films is neither a historical artifact nor a rare event. Quite the opposite. As the Williams Institute at UCLA outlined earlier this year, about 700,000 American adults have undergone “conversion therapy” at some point in their lives, half of whom endured the experience as adolescents. Despite the opposition to “conversion therapy” by leading professional health organizations (including the American Medical Association and the American Psychological Association) and the widespread evidence that such treatments do not work and, in fact, can cause emotional and psychological harm. Thirty-six states still permit “conversion therapy” for underage minors; according to the Williams Institute, nearly 80,000 LGBTQ youth will receive the discredited therapy before they reach the age of 18.