Radical Compassion: Acclaimed memoirist Garrard Conley speaks at SUNY New Paltz, Nov. 19

New York Times bestselling author Garrard Conley will share stories from “Boy Erased,” his memoir of identity, faith and family, during a talk and book signing on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m. in Lecture Center 100 on the SUNY New Paltz campus.

In his talk, “Radical Compassion,” Conley asks: “What do we do when fundamentalist thinking damages our understanding of compassion and goodness?”

The son of a Baptist pastor from rural Arkansas, Conley was subjected to a brutal 12-step conversion therapy program intended to “cure” him of his homosexuality. He ultimately overcame intense bigotry and worked to cultivate a sense of compassion for himself and for the counselors who harmed him.

Conley is an activist and speaker who travels throughout the country to lead conversations about radical compassion, writing through trauma and growing up gay in the complicated South. He works with other activists to help end conversion therapy in the United States and abroad.

In addition to authoring “Boy Erased,” Conley is one of the creators and producers of UnErased, a podcast that explores the history of conversion therapy in America. His work can be found in Time, Vice, CNN, BuzzFeed, Virginia Quarterly Review and the Huffington Post.

In 2018, his book was adapted into a major motion picture starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, and Lucas Hedges, directed by Joel Edgerton. New Paltz Pride will host a screening of the film adaptation one day prior to Conley’s visit to campus, on Monday, Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. in Lecture Center 100.

This event is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the SUNY New Paltz Foundation, and made possible thanks to the generosity of the Robert Sillins Family Foundation. The Sillins Foundation has partnered with the College to create events and non-tuition-based scholarships to advance human rights, social justice and the Judaic concept of tikkun olam: acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world.

“Radical Compassion” is additionally supported by the English Department, the Creative Writing Program, the Office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion, and the Department of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

Both the Nov. 19 talk/book signing and the Nov. 18 film screening are free and open to the public.

If you have accessibility questions or require accommodations to fully participate in these events, please contact Despina Parker at parkerd@newpaltz.edu as soon as possible.