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The weight of the truth


 

There is a issue in a  relationship/friendship.  It isn’t new in fact, its been an issue for some time.  You’ve ignored it, hoped it would go away on its own.  But now the issue has  grown larger.  An event in your life has placed the issue front and center.

The remedy may be a phone call away, or it may be sleeping beside you.

You avoid the asking the question, because the truth could change the relationship.  You may have long idealized the relationship and even though it hasn’t met your  expectations you have learned to live with the question burning inside.

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A Lifetime of Speculation 

With the issue now front and center, some people choose to outsource the question.  Asking complete strangers who aren’t invested in your life for theories and advice.

Quickly dismissing those who suggest you speak directly to the source.

A lifetime filled with doubt and fear often with the other person, unaware of your feelings.  A lifetime of misplaced anger and resentment.

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You may not like your options, anger and resentment or clarity?

Only one of these will allow you to move forward, no matter the outcome.

If you need a Guarantee THAT every thing will go well 

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There aren’t any guarantees how that person will respond to the question or to your pain.  In the movies, the writer can guarantee the outcome and at the end, the music swells, the rain stops, a bright rainbow appears, then the movie star kiss, slow fade, the perfect ending.

If your conversation must end with a perfect ending, you aren’t ready to have the conversation.  The goal is truth.  The truth will determine which direction your friendship/relationship will go.

Choose a moment ( this is NOT to be conducted electronically via text, or a face app) where the two of you (no more than two) can speak face to face.   Be aware of your tone as your tone and emotions can determine the direction of the conversation.

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Before you speak.  Practice what your going to say, being very Specific. (You may consider writing it down).   If there was an incident, be succinct, tell them how the event made you feel. Don’t dilute the moment with multiple questions.  Then stop and breathe.

Allow them to respond (without interruption) with their truth.  Take their words in, allow a full ten seconds before you respond.    Stay on Topic!    Once the conversation ends, put a period ,not a comma on it.   Accept what you hear.

 

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“It is a choice”.

Life end’s in an Instant, which box will you choose?

The RodFather

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Disco Nights At “Dance Your Ass off Incorporated, San Francisco”


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It wasn’t about smoking, buying a drink, I just wanted to dance.

My roommate Jennifer introduced me to Disco.  She had this wild fascination with drag queen’s, especially black drag Queens.   At one forty five am, we would walk down street to the Foster’s Restaurant at Polk and Sutter. Foster’s was opened 24 hours and was a popular place to gather after the bars closed at 2am.   In the 70’s, Polk Street was the heart of the San Francisco’s  gay community and there were more than a dozen bars between Post and Sacramento Street’s

We were both under age back then.  Jennifer would sometimes get into the bars but I wouldn’t. Watching the nightly show at Foster’ s was one thing ,but entering a gay bar, wasn’t happening,

One of the first disco’s I ever went to was , “Dance your ass off Incorporated” on Columbus near the Wharf.  For this kid it was magical . Flashing lights ,disco balls and the deafening beat of the music.

Dancing was my life, from Fresno, to New York City.

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It was a place you could be anything and do anything.  At a Disco, the dress code was what ever you feel and Polyester was king.   The bathrooms were genderless at some of the clubs in the city.

 Dying to get into Studio 54

My roomy Jen, fell in love with a guy who was into Scientology and moved to New York. They lived in a small roach filled apartment uptown off Broadway.   We were determined to get into studio 54.  Image result for studio 54 new york pictures from 1970s

The staff at the door were mean and nasty unless your a celebrity.  You were judged and they determined if you got in.  It was fun, to watch people get out of their limo’s like celebrities and slip the door man a fifty only to be directed towards the end of the line.

For a three days, Jen, her Boo Larry and me waited in line.    Jen was hugged up with Larry and one day, a man pointed at Jen and I . I told the man THEY are a couple and before I knew it,  Jen scooped up my arm and kissed Larry goodbye.

Invested

All over america, seedy dives were adding mirror balls and parkay floors, becoming Disco’s overnight .  There were dance floors all over the City, from The Mission to the Richmond along Clement Street.   There was the Shanghai Gardens in Chinatown on Grant.  The I Beam in the Haight Image result for i beam san francisco  Busby’s on Polk, had a Stainless steel ceiling and dance floor where they put saw dust on the floor to keep the dancers in place.   The hotels were adding Disco’s . There was a disco in the Penthouse of the St Francis Hotel.  I met my wife on a dance floor in the San Francisco Hilton.

The larger clubs sold tee shirts, advertising there businesses.  But I wanted more. I lost a few pounds was able to buy some jeans at the Jeans Factory on Market, invested in square bottom polyester shirts.

Things changed after visiting Osko’s Dance Club in Los Angeles

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Osko’s is the massive Disco where “Thank God it’s Friday with Donna Summer was filmed.  There were people in jumpsuits and individuals wearing vest with custom lettering representing other clubs throughout the country.

Back in San Fran, my Favorite Disco was “The City ” in North Beach.   I bought a black Vest.  I added custom lettering on the back representing my club on the top line and on the second line was my name “Dr. Disco M.D” which stood for Mad Dancer.

I designed a sleeveless black bell bottom jumpsuit with a zipper down the front made of the finest bullet-proof polyester money could buy.  I found a Taylor on Polk Street who shared my vision. He insisted on a non destructible zipper.   On its first outing, I realized there was a major omission, pockets.   I designed zippered pockets in the leg of the jumpsuit for my wallet coins and keys. I put toilet paper in the pockets to silence the noise.

By the early eighties Disco faded.  Many people danced where they used to dance before disco, in the Black, Latin and gay clubs.  I was married with children, so dancing meant company  parties, where my wife and I were the first to get on the dance floor and the last to leave.

  “Dance your ass off ‘ is a comedy club.  Due to its unique name a lot of my friends remember the club.  I recently met with friend from a friend in college who I hadn’t seen in 35 years who remembered the club.

I remembered an wonderful environment filled with joy.  In City, there were whites in black clubs, latin in white clubs and everyone else in massive gay clubs like the Trocadero on sixth.. It didn’t matter if you had three left feet. It was about the ever present thumping of the bass..

A little bit of that would feel good in these times. 

I still have the jumpsuit, which proves polyester is the miracle fabric and getting into the jumpsuit today WOULD be a miracle.  I wonder if the Smithsonian (once they re-open) would be interested?

CityFella

Sold my soul for a case of “Bit of Honey”


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My niece said, they’re auditioning at the Hilton, you should go. Even though I hadn’t seen or heard of the show, I said okay.

The medium sized meeting room was filled with perspective contestants and staff, who asked you about yourself and hobbies. When they asked me had I’d seen the show, I figured I was doomed. But no one gave me the heave ho and We saw a video of the show and played a mock version of the show. I was terrible.

When I was younger, my mother and I would occasionally drive down to LA to see the taping of some of the shows like Johnny Carson, Laverne and Shirley and various game shows. The game shows were lucrative, because they gave audience members a fist full of tickets to entice us to sit through the hours of taping. It was common for them to tape ten to fourteen shows a day. We came home with Tee Shirts, Electric Can Opener and cash.it was grueling.

I had long forgotten about Face the Music when they called and told me to come down to LA. Bring changes of clothing and expect to stay 14 hour a day. I had no expectations of winning a car or a ton of cash, I was just excited to be on TV.

My wife and I rented an Oldsmobile Cutlass and drove down to LA, where we stayed in a seedy hotel on Hollywood Boulevard near the Sunset Studios. I convinced her, the long day would be worth it because of the cash and prizes.

FORT KNOX

We arrived to the studio. As I was walking away, my wife remembered I had the rental car keys and the room keys and as she was walking towards me to retrieve the keys, she was blocked by two security guards. Who took the keys from me, and put them in an envelope, sealed the envelope and gave the sealed envelope to my wife, who was less than fifteen feet away.

HOME

In my mind, we would tape then break for lunch. I was assigned to a waiting area with other contestants ,where we were told the rules. We had to sign various releases including one very scary release that said, if the show was preempted in one of the five largest markets, we would forfeit our prizes. So if there was a national emergency, I could kiss my 1980 Ford Pinto goodbye.

We all learned that home during the taping would be this large room in a loft in the studio, where there was a dressing area, two restrooms and a large lighted mirror. The contestants were encouraged to entertain ourselves and watch the taping on a portable TV.

CHOW

There were snacks for us A large steel can held the IRIS soft drinks, coffee was in a large teachers coffee pot. with an orange light. Lunch on the first day was fried chicken, poured into another large steel can lined with a black garbage bag and chips. Napkins were our plates. No one complained.

FACE THE MUSIC

Face the Music was produced Sandy Frank, who was responsible for the very successful “Name that Tune”. The twist, however, was that in addition to identifying the songs that the orchestra played, the contestants had to link the song titles to famous people, places, and things. (Remember. I sucked here) The Host was Ron Ely, who was best known for his loin cloth in TV’s Tarzan. Way, way, wayyyy back in 1966. The Singer was Lisa Donovan who’s trademark move was twisting her shoulders at the beginning of every show. Her twisting slowly took over the room. By the end of the first evening all of us were twisting with Lisa

OLD MATH AND HARSH REALITY

They called us for the show. People traveled from Washington State to be on the show. There were nearly eighty of us. Two new contestants for each show meant, only 28 would get on if they taped fourteen shows. If!

My reality changed after realizing that I wasn’t guaranteed to get on. After I told everyone I was going to be on. “Fuck”

I was one of six black contestants. One brotha, names Eugene, killed it and became the champion. While we should be happy for him, all we felt was dread. You never seen blacks on one game show in those days. Eugene went on to win three other shows. They taped 11 shows that day.

My new wife, was disappointed that I didn’t get on. To make matters worse, the audience prizes were mostly tee shirts.

SELLING OUR SOULS FOR BIT OF HONEY

Several times a day the producers would visit the loft. The staff, asked us to chant their names as they walked up the stairs, the chants would grow louder as the producers got closer to the room, when the the door open there as absolute pandemonium, we were jumping up and down.

These were all self respecting people who would never act this way. ANYWHERE! But we wanted to get on, so we tossed aside our self respect and screamed they way the told us too.

By the second and final day, I was depressed. I kept it to myself. Even with the announcement they were going to tape 14 shows, did nothing to relieve my sadness. I told everyone I was going to be on TV, and now it looks likes its not going to happen.

Eugene, who came out of top for four episodes, lost in the the pivotal fifth episode which would have guaranteed him a new car. I felt bad for wanting him to lose.

In the room, you could feel the disappointment. I even sang a sad song that make a couple of people cry.

At one point, they asked us to come downstairs. Showtime, was shooting a documentary (I think) featuring game show contestants. We all signed releases without looking. When the cameras were on me, I told them how excited I was to be on and how well we were treated (All lies)

We returned to more chicken. I sat staring at set. There was no more Lisa Donovan Twist. Just as I started to settle into my reality, I wasn’t going to be on. They called my name.

The other contestants made me feel important even though I would never see them again. The brotha worked on my Natural, others made sure every thing was perfect. No one had to coach me about my energy. I was ready.

When Ron Ely asked what I did? In song, I said I was an opera singer. My colleagues at the insurance company where I worked as clerk, teased me about that for months.

(An Opera, what?)

I didn’t make it past the first round, BUT, I was a hit, with pats on the back from staffers and the female producer. I got carried away by the laughs in the audience. Ron Ely, told me to settle down. But who was he? I was a hit!

My consolation prize was a selection of Bulova Clocks and a Case of Bit of Honey.

The car was especially quiet leaving the studio. Then all of sudden “Wedding Ring” WEDDING RING!! WEDDING RING!!! my wife is screaming! Was the answer, to the question. I made the mistake and said, I know! HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW WEDDING RING!!! We have only been married a few months. WED-DING RING!

An unscheduled stop at Del-Taco, reduced the temperature of the car.

GAME SHOWS

I have auditioned for several games shows. From the Zoo like atmosphere of the Price is Right, to Card Sharks, I was called by three of the four shows I auditioned for. But the more I thought about the degradation and making a complete fool of myself, and decided against it.

If can’t say if this is the experience at all game shows, but I was one and done.

My prize arrived six months later, I was Bit O Honey for world

Every now and then I will get a call from someone who has seen me on Face The Music, on Game Show Network and other Cable channels and I walk away, we no regrets. While all my children know that I’m crazy, I wish I could get a copy of the episode so they might share it with their children

See you on Cable

CityFella

Man buys entire family DNA tests for Christmas and there are some shocking results


A man has revealed how he almost ruined his family Christmas (stock image) (Image: Getty Images)

By: Courtney Pochin/UK Mirror

There’s always one family member who turns up at Christmas with a rather bizarre present.

 

From homemade items that didn’t quite go to plan, to last minute gifts purchased on the way over, we thought we’d seen it all.

But one man has raised the bar for unusual presents by purchasing DNA testing kits for his entire family – and the bemusing item almost ruined Christmas for everyone.

The unnamed son revealed all in a post online, which has had thousands of views.

He bought the same gift for everyone (stock photo) (Image: Getty Images)

Taking to Reddit, the man starts his story by revealing that earlier in the year AncestryDNA had a sale on their kit and for some reason he thought it would be a great gift, so he bought six of them – one for himself, his mum, his dad, brother and two sisters.

However when it came time to open presents on December 25, the kits didn’t exactly garner the reaction he’d been hoping for.

He wrote: “As soon as everyone opened their gift, my mom started freaking out. She told us she didn’t want us taking them because they had unsafe chemicals. We explained to her how there were actually no chemicals, but we could tell she was still flustered.

“Later she started trying to convince us that only one of us kids need to take it since we will all have the same results and to resell extra kits to save money.”

The man bought DNA tests for his whole family – and almost ruined Christmas (Image: Getty)

The children were still keen to give the tests a go which caused an argument to break out between the parents.

According to the post, the pair went upstairs and argued for about an hour, leaving the four kids to wonder what exactly was going on.

At this point, the man truly thought he’d “f***** up” and ruined the family Christmas.

But then things took a surprising turn.

TIFU by buying everyone an AncestryDNA kit and ruining Christmas

Earlier this year, AncestryDNA had a sale on their kit. I thought it would be a great gift idea so I bought 6 of them for Christmas presents. Today my family got together to exchange presents for our Christmas Eve tradition, and I gave my mom, dad, brother, and 2 sisters each a kit.

As soon as everyone opened their gift at the same time, my mom started freaking out. She told us how she didn’t want us taking them because they had unsafe chemicals. We explained to her how there were actually no chemicals, but we could tell she was still flustered. Later she started trying to convince us that only one of us kids need to take it since we will all have the same results and to resell extra kits to save money.

Fast forward: Our parents have been fighting upstairs for the past hour, and we are downstairs trying to figure out who has a different dad.

TL;DR I bought everyone in my family AncestryDNA kit for Christmas. My mom started freaking. Now our parents are fighting and my dad might not be my dad.

Update: Thank you so much for all the love and support. My sisters, brother and I have not yet decided yet if we are going to take the test. No matter what the results are, we will still love each other, and our parents no matter what.

Update 2: CHRISTMAS ISN’T RUINED! My FU actually turned into a Christmas miracle. Turns out my sisters father passed away shortly after she was born. A good friend of my moms was able to help her through the darkest time in her life, and they went on to fall in love and create the rest of our family. They never told us because of how hard it was for my mom. Last night she was strong enough to share stories and photos with us for the first time, and it truly brought us even closer together as a family. This is a Christmas we will never forget. And yes, we are all excited to get our test results. Merry Christmas everyone!

P.S. Sorry my mom isn’t a whore. No you’re not my daddy.

 

His parents eventually came back down and shared some shocking news with them all – one of them had a different dad.

He explained: “Turns out my sister’s father passed away shortly after she was born. A good friend of my mom’s was able to help her through the darkest time in her life, and they went on to fall in love and create the rest of our family.

“They never told us because of how hard it was for my mom.”

The parents went on to share stories and photos for the first time and the son claims the experience brought them “even closer together as a family”.

The situation ended up bringing them closer together (stock photo) (Image: Getty)

He added: “This is a Christmas we will never forget. And yes, we are all excited to get out test results. Merry Christmas everyone!”

More than 9,000 people have taken the time to comment on his post, with many sharing their own unusual family stories.

One person wrote: “I was adopted by my grandparents and didn’t know until I was older. The person I grew up with as an older sister was actually my biological mother.”

Another said: “My friend discovered through AncestryDNA that her grandpa wasn’t actually her grandpa. Her actual grandpa was one of her grandparents’ neighbors.”

A third added: “I work at AncestryDNA. This actually happens all the time.”

Home with a box of Kelloggs Corn Flakes


In 1894, John Harvey Kellogg created a food that he thought would be healthy for the patients of a Sanitarium where he was the Superintendent in Battle Creek Michigan. 

The cereal was made by toasting flakes of corn .  

  In 1906, he started a business making corn flakes, and by 1914 its was sold all over the United States, today its sold all the world. 

I was introdued to Kelloggs when I was four or five.  This was well before Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms and other sugary cereals.  I digress,  I forgot “Tony the Tiger” the mascot, the spokestiger of “Sugar Frosted Flakes.  

Kelloggs Corn Flakes is my comfort food, its not a part of my daily diet, but there is always a box in my pantry.  Its there in a pinch.  I have a bowl if  I’m super stressed.  It’s  calming and familar.  Perhaps its reminds me of my mom.   But its there when I need it… A bowl of Kelloggs Corn Flakes, not Post Toasties or some generic corn flakes, Kelloggs.

Researching this story, I found an interesting tidbit.    In addition to Kelloggs, Post Cereal was also founded in Battle Creek Michigan, the cereal capital of the world.    Charles William Post was a patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium where Mr Kellogg was the Superintendent.      

A year after Kellogg developed corn flakes,  Mr Post developed a drinkable cereal called Postum.  Two years after Kellogg’s corn flakes went to market. Post Toasties was introduced and so was a rivalery.

While Kelloggs is my choice of corn flake I find Post Raisin Brand superior to Kelloggs Raisin Brand. 

The defination of “Comfort Food”  is food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone, and may be characterized by its high caloric nature, high carbohydrate level, or simple preparation. The nostalgia may be specific to an individual, or it may apply to a specific culture.

My  Comfort Food

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CityFella

Black Friday seems to be a thing in Israel


 

 Celebrating Hol Hamoed throughout Mamilla Mall and the Old City

But the difference here: The stores are not swamped with shoppers like in America (though the pace of shopping is noticeably brisk).

By: Marcy Oster/Jerusalem Post 

JERUSALEM (JTA) — I was watching late night network television on Saturday night – that’s not terribly exciting here — when I was slammed with a string of ads that made me feel like I was back in America.

The ads were in practically shouted Hebrew, but I could discern the same two English words in each: Black Friday. (You have to say to say it with a Hebrew accent though, kind of like Blek Fchidey.) Clothing, electronics, home decor – all the ads were pushing Black Friday sales.t to know

  Nor did the Black Friday assault stop with my television. Suddenly every cellphone text message (and I get a lot of them because I have loyalty cards at literally every store in one of the Kfar Saba malls where I do most of my shopping) is from a chain store reminding me that its Black Friday sales HAVE ALREADY STARTED!

I won’t lie; I have taken advantage of these sales. In fact I visited my favorite mall today and there were Black Friday sales signs in front of every store.

But the difference here: The stores are not swamped with shoppers like in America (though the pace of shopping is noticeably brisk).

This isn’t the first year that I have noticed Black Friday sales in Israel. It is just that this year it became … commonplace.

How did this most American of traditions — the door-busting Christmas season sales that come after the day after Thanksgiving g — make it to Israel? Blame the internet. Israelis order a ton of merchandise online, and every website they visit is touting Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. If it’s good enough for Americans, it’s good enough for Israelis, right?

While Israelis have come to expect these November sales, which this year come conveniently less than two weeks before Hanukkah, I don’t think most of them know why there is a Black Friday or that it is the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season.

And why should they? As a nation we don’t celebrate Christmas even though it is the land where the story takes place.

But everyone loves a sale.

As for Thanksgiving, when we made aliyah from the States more than 18 years ago, my husband and I decided to keep the Thanksgiving tradition alive. The holiday was particularly meaningful to his immigrant grandfather, who escaped from Europe right before the Holocaust, and my immigrant father, a Holocaust survivor.

The first time I tried to buy a whole turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner, butchers in three communities looked at me like I was crazy. “Ain dvar kazeh po!” (there is no such thing here), one said, and suggested I take home a nice turkey breast.

“Whatever do you want that for?” another asked.

As for cranberry sauce, fuhgedaboutit. In later years, stores in Anglo neighborhoods in cities such as Jerusalem and Raanana began stocking cranberry sauce. And this year my local supermarket also started selling it, likely in deference to a new cadre of young immigrants from the United States who have moved to our community in recent years and, apparently, are continuing to observe Thanksgiving.

On Sunday, when I went to order a whole turkey from the local butcher, the woman at the counter told me I was the third order that morning!

“For Chag Hahodaya, right?” she asked me, using a literal translation of “Festival of Thanks.” (In a strange linguistic coincidence, the Hebrew word for turkey, hodu, can also mean “give thanks.” That’s a fun fact for everyone but the turkey.)

The term Black Friday became widely recognized  in the 1980s. According to several sources it was dubbed “black” (as in negative, as in “black eye” and “black sheep”) by police in Philadelphia to describe the crowds and traffic on the day after Thanksgiving and the day before the Army-Navy football game.

In an effort to make the term more cheery, retailers took on the explanation that success on the day makes the difference between finishing in the red, or operating at a loss, to being in the black, or operating at a profit.

Do Israelis know this? I have no idea. But every time I hear or see a Black Friday ad, I feel like maybe too much of America has crept into our society. We already have pre-Rosh Hashanah and pre-Passover sales, since they have also become gift-giving occasions. But Black Friday? It’s just not Israel.

All I know is that I can’t wait for Friday and the end of the bombardment of advertisements. Besides, the End of Season sales will already be starting soon.

The Author of Boy Erased Hopes His Experience in Conversion Therapy Makes People Angry


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Focus Features

“I’m aiming an arrow directly into the heart of America.” That was Joel Edgerton’s promise to Boy Erased author Garrard Conley from the very beginning when Edgerton began writing and directing the film adaptation of Conley’s vulnerable memoir about his experience with “conversion therapy.”

By: Elena Hilton\Esquire.com

It was a risk for Conley to share his story in the first place, let alone allow other artists to interpret his life in the form of an Oscar-hopeful movie. But thankfully he took the leap, because the trauma he endured at Love in Action, an “ex-gay” Christian ministry that attempted to change people’s sexual orientation, is something that America desperately needs to recognize.

 

Currently, 15 states and Washington, D.C. have laws to protect minors from “conversion therapy” practices, and the Trump-Pence administration’s bigotry-laden rhetoric and policies are a stark reminder that the fight isn’t over. “We’re getting so close to the finish line that I’m becoming more radical and more of an activist each day,” Conley says.

Conley’s Southern, ultra-Christian upbringing—his father became a Baptist preacher in their small Arkansas town when Conley was a teenager—is similar to so many other LGBTQ adolescents who are still being told they’re wrong for who they are. The hope is that this film, along with Conley’s 2016 book, will open people’s eyes to the real effects that bigotry has on lives.

Prior to Boy Erased’s limited theatrical release (it opens in theaters this weekend), I sat down with Conley to talk about what it was like seeing his memoir translated into a Hollywood film and how he’s used his experiences to become an activist for the LGBTQ community.

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Joel Edgerton directs a scene in Boy Erased Focus Features

Joel Edgerton proved right away why he was the best person to adapt Boy Erased.

At first I was very nervous about the whole thing, partly because I hadn’t met a lot of movie stars—I’m just not in that world, I’m a writer. Just going into the meeting with Joel was stressful, but then I was like, “He’s a straight guy, what’s he going to do the story? We’ve been burned before.” But at our first meeting he asked to meet with other conversion therapy survivors in addition to me, and I loved the fact that he wanted to hear all of our stories.

Plus, I had just watched Loving, which he was in. It was a movie about the first interracial marriage and all the legal battles that went along with that, and he was using that publicity tour to talk about marriage equality now, much to the detriment to some of the family that was involved with the making of that film because they didn’t actually want that. [Edgerton] was like “I don’t care, I’m not going to work with a film that doesn’t recognize bigotry across the board.” So I already knew that he was a good ally, but he also asked if I wanted to write the script. I said I couldn’t write it again for a different audience and I don’t know how to “Hollywood-up” a story. So he wrote a script really rapidly, and throughout the process he made me feel better by always sending me the drafts of the script and asking if there was anything problematic or anything that didn’t feel right, and he would change it anytime I said there was an issue.

Conley fought to keep the ending of the movie similar to his real-life experience.

I think there’s a natural desire to have Russell Crowe’s character [Crowe plays Conley’s father] to come around and show what that kind of acceptance would look like. And I can see why that kind of editorial vision would exist, because it gives parents a path for rehabilitation. But I strongly argued for a closer truth, which is that it’s still complicated, and my dad’s not completely there yet. The film might lose a bit of money because it doesn’t have the redemptive arc for the parents that the studio originally wanted, but I pushed pretty hard on making it complicated at the end because I knew other survivors hadn’t had happy stories with their parents. So [Edgerton] changed that, and one of the producers was like, “Well, we might have just lost millions of dollars, but good job with your principles.”

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                  Author Garrard Conley on the set of Boy Erased with Lucas Hedges

Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features

He was blown away by Lucas Hedges, who plays him in the movie.

Lucas is a dream. The first time we met, we were walking around DUMBO, and he said, “You know, I wasn’t going to do this, but do you want to come back to my apartment and talk?” He still has a room in his father’s [director Peter Hedges] house. So we went over there and he invited me into his childhood bedroom and said, “If you’re going to show me everything, then I need to show you everything.” And then he showed me his copy of my book, which was marked up on every page. I felt it was the greatest tribute someone who was going to play me could do. I was already pretty convinced, and then when Lucas started to share his identity on the spectrum with me—he wasn’t quite aware of where he was, but he knew that he wasn’t entirely straight—that was the last hurdle where I thought, “Okay, this guy can play it.

He’d explained to me a sense of shame that he’d felt, and he later talked about it in the New York magazine piece, and he wasn’t really specific about it, but he did tell me he that he thought he was fluid in some way. So he had the shame aspect, and the actual identity, so that was going to play well on the screen. And he’s phenomenal in it. [His performance] is understated in many ways, but it’s very accurate. The way he’s able to depict fear and shame on his face is actually really terrifying. He’s my favorite thing in the movie. Just watching him is mesmerizing.

Writing the memoir was an emotionally draining, but necessary, experience.

Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family
RIVERHEAD amazon.com$10.87

I had to really look at it like a story, which is hard to do, because you have to cut through all the trauma and, in many ways, the false memories you’ve created to get over stuff and to go back to those places mentally which is incredibly difficult. And it’s harmful for the people around you—my boyfriend at the time suffered through a lot of episodes where I was not okay. He was always like, “Why are you doing this to yourself, why are you writing this?” And I didn’t always have a clear answer to that, it was just that I had to.

Any time you turn anything into a story, you lose the “life-iness” of it, because you’ve got to shape it into art, and that feels uncomfortable because it’s all true, all these things happened, but you’re shaping it for an audience. It feels like a bit of a sacrifice because I’m very precious with my memories and my internal account of things. And whenever you’re told that you’re crazy or corrupt in some way, you’re a little suspicious about putting it out there into the world again. But I did it because, from the very beginning, with the book and this film, the project has been to make something compelling enough to drive the conversation forward. I’d seen the same old arguments and the same old depictions of conversion therapy over and over again, which is it’s a joke, it’s a farce, and it’s not true. It’s soul murder, and I wanted that story to be told.

The memoir was released before Trump’s election, and Conley probably wouldn’t have written the same version now.

It’s a very anti-LGBT administration. It was so different, rhetorically, to humanize people like my parents or even the [conversion therapy] counselors when Obama was president than it is right now to humanize them, because it’s almost asking too much empathy from people who feel like their lives are on the line. I don’t know if I would have written the same book right now. I think I would have been angrier and I might not have been so forgiving, so it might actually not have worked as well to write it now.

There is kind of a weird irony in the fact that because all the stuff came out about Mike Pence supporting conversion therapy, it’s actually made conversion therapy a headline and now it’s easier to get people’s attention. I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for it, but it’s an opportunity. It’s unfortunate, but this is something the right has been invested in for a very long time. They’ll throw [the LGBTQ community] under a bus at any moment just to score political points.

We’re definitely at a turning point. It’s either going to go, hopefully, in the way of, “Let’s stop pretending respectability politics exist and let’s be as radical as we need to be in order to get shit done,” but it could easily go the other way.

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Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe in Boy Erased Focus Features

He hopes people realize that conversion therapy and toxic masculinity affects everyone.

One of things I always say is conversion therapy doesn’t have to be done in a facility. If you’re taught to be a “certain type of man”, to act a certain way, and you’re taught by authority figures that being gay is evil, then that’s conversion therapy too. Conversion therapy can function as a metaphor for the kinds of brainwashing that we’ve all been given. Once you’re done looking at everyone’s side of the story, you can begin to see a system in place that harms everyone.

I often think about how I feel ashamed to be a man in this culture, and I talked to a trans activist named Thomas Page McBee who wrote Amateur and Man Alive about those feelings, and he was like, “You need to consider the fact that you’re harming yourself whenever you believe that masculinity is one thing and that it’s just the toxic brand.” It was just so eye-opening to hear that from someone like him who’d grown up conditioned to be a woman, then transitioned to a man, and had to deal with all that bullshit. I realized we need to look at the systems in place, and those systems can turn people into monsters.

Activists should recognize that there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Faith is such a strange thing. It can be an incredibly powerful tool to survive something and it can also be something that keeps you locked in a fundamentalist worldview for a very long time. It covers up the moments of doubt. Getting out of that system is incredibly difficult. There are a lot of activists who call for people to move out of their towns and go somewhere else, but they’re often forgetting that people don’t have money, they don’t have the social capabilities to even do that without getting lost in the shuffle.

They also kind of ignore the psychological toil that comes from splitting from everything you’ve ever known. It’s not easy, and I think in larger metropolitan areas there can be a tendency to forget what it’s like to be on the ground in many of these towns across the country, and even if we don’t want to, we have to educate people who have perpetuated this bigotry from the very beginning.

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Garrard Conley and his mother, Martha, on the set of Boy Erased Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features

Conley’s own relationship with the South and Christianity is still evolving.

I try to be a strong voice for the South being a complex place, because I do believe there are pockets of real, amazing, radical work that’s being done in the South. Even in the more fundamentalist communities, there are people within that are fighting the good fight. That being said, I think the South and many churches have not reckoned with their past. There are affirming churches who do not talk about what they did in terms of conversion therapy and the lives that were lost as a result of the choices that they made, and I call bullshit on that.

They need to hold themselves accountable, just like they did in terms of how they treated other races or what they did with slavery in the past. They should continue to talk about that, because unless you do, you’re not going to have any moral standing whatsoever. You’re trying to say “come here, learn how to be a good person,” but how are you going to do that if you don’t address the horrible things that you’ve done to the [LGBTQ] community? And if you just say, “I did it out of love, but it was wrong, and I’m sorry,” then that’s fine, I’m okay with that. But you’ve got to say something.

In terms of my own personal faith, I’ve actually begun praying a lot more lately, which is an unusual and unexpected development. I don’t necessarily believe in fate, but I do feel like I’m in a very intense position with a lot of responsibility in terms of how I represent the survivor groups, how I represent LGBT people through the culture at large, and how I can end conversion therapy, while not sacrificing our community to do so. Because that’s incredibly confusing and scary to me, I’ve just started praying, and I don’t know who I’m praying to, but I try to just ask for guidance in some way.

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