Even with his facial stubble, Garrard Conley looks and acts like a diffident teenager, not a 33-year-old man who is a leading exponent of the “gay agenda,” as right-wingers refer to the movement to gain equal treatment for sexual minorities.
Conley probably objects to being called a champion of the gay agenda. All he wants is for young people, no matter which of the infinite variety of sexual personalities their bodies and brains handed them, to feel good about who they are.
Conley grew up in Cherokee Village, the son of a salesman-cum-Missionary Baptist preacher and a doting mother, and he was outed by another gay student when he was a freshman at Lyon College at Batesville. His father prayed about it and told him that he either had to enter gay-conversion therapy and exorcise whatever evil attracted him to men or else leave their house and companionship forever. He was more than agreeable and spent some time in the crazy gay-conversion program called Love in Action at Memphis until, realizing that he was on the verge of suicide, his mother said, “We’re stopping all of this now.”