“Boy Erased” Author Garrard Conley: Self-Acceptance Comes In “Minor Downloads To The Soul”

Conley, a conversion therapy survivor, explains how learning to love yourself requires patience.

This letter is part of our inaugural editorial series, “Letter to Myself,” in which we asked 40 remarkable queer people to write a note to their younger selves.

Hey You,

That job aptitude test they made you take in middle school, the one that gave you “artist” and then subsequently dashed your dreams by telling you you’d be penniless and have a 1% chance of success? Yeah, that’s accurate. But what it didn’t tell you is that, after about a year of conversion therapy, “artist” would be the only label that’d shield you from the attempted soul murder your counselors, friends, and family tried to wage against you. That glorious second label, “queer,” would come years later. Accepting yourself sometimes comes in chunks, minor downloads to the soul, so be patient as you find yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re moving too slow. They don’t know what it’s like to be you.

Garrard Conley’s 2016 memoir Boy Erased is currently being adapted into a motion picture.

Read more letters here.

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