Queer Week movie discusses conversion therapy


Tzanda Mendes and Nathan Zamudio wait for the film to start outside The Hub. Photo credit: Emily Neria

The Hub at Chico State hosted a viewing of “Boy Erased” on Tuesday for Queer Week. The showing was followed by a discussion with representatives from Catalyst Domestic Violence Services and Stonewall Alliance Center.

The movie is about Jared Eamons, a gay college student whose father is a preacher. When circumstances urge Jared to come out to his family, he ends up going to a conversion camp in hopes of discarding his homosexuality.

The audience at The Hub watches the scene from Boy Erased in which Jerad first arrives at Conversion Camp. Photo credit: Emily Neria

The story is based on Garrad Conley’s real-life experiences with gay conversion therapy. Conley published his memoirs in hopes of raising awareness for the estimated 20,000 Americans currently still undergoing this treatment.

The event guest speakers, Sarah Sullivan from Catalyst and Marin Hambley from the Stonewall Alliance Center, found many correlations between Conley’s experience and the people who seek help from both of their organizations.

Sullivan is the prevention and outreach program manager at Catalyst. She used examples from the film to broach discussion about abuse, especially toward the queer community.

According to Sullivan, many of the circumstances that make people stay in abusive relationships are particularly common for people who identify as queer.

“Shame, fear of rejection. These are barriers that prevent people from leaving their abusers,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan also said that secrecy leads to a feeling of isolation which can make people feel stuck with their abusers regardless of how bad the situation is. This is similar to the conversion camp in the movie, because it discouraged boys from telling anyone about their abusive therapy methods.

Hambley from Stonewall Alliance Center thought the film was a great choice for Queer Week and that it was a good reminder that, while the week itself is a celebration, the subject matter is still very serious.

“It’s exciting,” Hambley said. “But we need to let folks make their own decisions at their own pace, and do what’s safe for them right now.”

The Hub’s diversity coordinator, Natalie Ordaz, said she wants to provide and bring awareness to the resources students have on campus.

“Most people are alone when they first come here,” Ordaz said. “Just knowing that those resources are there can be comforting.”

She’s looking forward to hosting more events that promote inclusivity.

Both Catalyst and the Stonewall Alliance Center are seeking volunteer help. If interested, contact the organizations via their websites.

Emily Neria can be reached at [email protected]