When those with money, influence and talent want to make a statement, one can expect them to make it effectively. “Boy Erased” is a good example of this. It has been carefully crafted to be highly convincing, on both emotional and intellectual levels.
The makers of this film have something they’re opposed to -- namely “gay conversion therapy” -- and they’ve set out to get as many other people to oppose it as they can. They’ve done this by presenting it in the worst light possible. The problem is, they’ve only been able to do this by lying about it, blatantly and shamelessly. Of course, it would be harder for them to get away with this if they weren’t building on misinformation and misconceptions that are already widespread.
You’re supposed to be horrified by the information, given in the end credits, that “this practice is still legal in 30 states.” But what actually happens in those 30 states bears NO resemblance to what’s portrayed in this film. And what actually happens has no reason to be banned, or even discouraged, in ANY state.
The film’s plot may have some basis in a real person’s actual experience (certainly many religious parents react inappropriately to a child's homosexuality), but to say it doesn’t represent “conversion therapy” in general would be a gross understatement. Actual therapists and actual Christians would be the first to oppose what's portrayed in the movie, for they would understand its harmfulness as well as anyone.
As with all other opposition to “conversion therapy,” it’s assumed in this film that it’s ALWAYS done against the subjects’ will. The reality is that therapists would not try to treat anyone against their will; besides being unethical, it would be counterproductive. (Ever heard the phrase “they have to WANT to change?” That applies here too.) We’re told at the end of the film that “thousands are HELD in programs like this.” Held?? Wrong. The reality is that thousands are seeking treatment at their own initiative.
As with all other opposition to “conversion therapy,” it’s assumed in this film that it involves bullying, torture, shaming, abuse, and so on. The reality: actual therapy is just… therapy. It involves helpfully and compassionately dealing with the issue by getting to its roots in a given individual. (And, to whatever extent any inborn tendency ever comes into play, there are ALWAYS roots -- in a given person’s environment, circumstances and experiences.)
Typically, for something coming from Hollywood (and popular media in general), this film is massively dishonest about homosexuality in general, portraying it in a rosy light that has little to do with what a given young man is actually likely to encounter upon being drawn into the “gay” life. (Statistics involving AIDS, even among those in “committed relationships,” should alone be enough to lead a society to encourage men to get out of such a life.) And, typically, it’s massively dishonest about Christians in general, portraying them as dangerous wackos who are rankly hypocritical to boot. (If you think such portrayals are reasonable, you’re just demonstrating their effectiveness.)
And, of course, it’s assumed in this film (as in much of society) that same-sex attraction is inborn and fixed. The reality is that recovery from same-sex attraction has a success rate favorably comparable to, say, that of recovery from alcoholism. I can personally attest to what I’ve seen in the lives of men who have succeeded. (Sure, some have not succeeded, but that’s true of anything so challenging.) I can also attest to what I’ve seen in the lives of those who stayed in the “gay” life: deep inner conflict, deep denial, anger at God, never finding peace, and (for some) disease and early death. And that, ultimately, is what the makers of this film are promoting.
A realistic film about the subject at hand would give the exact opposite impression from this film. It would generate anger against those who encourage homosexuality, not those who discourage it.
Call me "hateful" and "bigoted" if that makes you feel better. I just don't want to encourage people to stay stuck in a lifestyle that demonstrably does a great deal of harm. Somehow, that doesn't sound like "hate" or "bigotry" to me.