Boy Erased: A Memoir
by Garrard Conley
Riverhead Books. 340 pages, $27.
AS THE SON of a strict Missionary Baptist practitioner, Gerald Conley understood in grade school that he was a sinner. He writes in Boy Erased: A Memoir about the furtive, irresistible thrill of men’s underwear catalogs and of unrequited fantasies about other boys. But those memories are tinged with guilt, with the fear of being caught or teased, and with anxieties that “the increasingly blurry God” he’d known all his life would send him straight to hell for being a homosexual. That’s what his parents believed and what Conley was told repeatedly in his church. He learned from his father that being the gay son of a pastor-to-be would “stain” the entire family.