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Photography Laura Lewis

Troye Sivan to star in new film about gay conversion therapy

It was leaked that the Dazed 100 pop star would be joining the cast of Joel Edgerton's upcoming movie

Troye Sivan, Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman are set to star in a film next year about gay conversion therapy.

Based on Garrard Conley’s 2016 book, Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family, the film, directed by Joel Edgerton, will recount Conley’s experience of being outed to his conservative family in the US state of Arkansas. Conley’s father was a Baptist preacher and forced him to undergo gay conversion therapy with the goal of turning him straight or to be permanently cut off from his family.

Although not all of the film roles have been announced, Lucas Hedges (Manchester By the Sea) is starring as Garrad and it seems likely that Australian pop star, actor and social media star Troye Sivan, who came out publicly in a YouTube video in 2013, will also be playing a gay teen. On Twitter Sivan said: “UM I guess cats outta the bag!!!! Guys I’m so shook at this. This movie is gonna be so important and I’m honoured to be a part of it.”

Gay conversion therapy might seem like a throw-back, but a Stonewall UK report from 2015, Unhealthy Attitudes, found that 10 per cent of health and care staff have witnessed colleagues saying that lesbian, gay and bi people can be “cured” of their sexual orientation.

Further back, an even more worrying 2009 survey of over 1,300 accredited mental health professionals found that more than 200 had offered some form of conversion therapy. Thirty-five per cent of patients were referred to them for treatment by GPs, and 40 per cent were actually treated inside an NHS practice.

Matt Horwood, a Stonewall spokesperson, said: “No one should ever be made to feel invalid or that they have to change, simply for being who they are. We hope Boy Erased helps bring the shocking reality of conversion therapy to screens in a way that empowers allies across the world to stand by lesbian, gay, bi and trans people everywhere.”

Conley recently wrote on his personal blog that there had been some well-meaning criticism and worries since the announcement of the film that his story would be diluted and not fully representative of the lives of gay conversion survivors. In other words, “straightwashed”.

He wrote: “Representation matters, and when I was growing up closeted in Arkansas, it was a matter of life and death. I remember seeing stereotyped versions of queer people on the screen, and turning away out of shame… Boy Erased, from what I have read in the script and what I have learned through countless hours with the director and production team, will not be one of those bad examples.”