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'SNL' Star Bowen Yang Opens Up About Going Through Gay Conversion Therapy As A Teen

Bowen Yang, SNL star, opens up about undergoing gay conversion therapy as a teenager

Bowen Yang is enjoying his time in the spotlight as one of Saturday Night Live‘s newest cast members — and he’s killing it, often portraying a hilarious version of presidential candidate Andrew Yang, among many other great characters on the sketch comedy show.

But he’s also now opening up about some of the tough times in his past, too… like when he spoke frankly to the New York Times over the weekend about his experiences undergoing gay conversion therapy as a teenager.

Related: Gay Conversion Therapy Leader Comes Out… As Gay! Oops!

It all started, Yang says, when his Chinese immigrant father discovered he’d been sending “lewd” instant messages to another man online. Horrified by this, the culturally conservative dad set up several gay conversion therapy appointments for the now-TV star, arranging them in the hopes of “fixing” his son.

As the late-night funnyman recalled during the interview, his concern at the time wasn’t the gay conversion therapy itself — it was in doing whatever he could to honor and love his now-heartbroken father.

Yang recalled (below):

“I’d only seen my father cry when my grandpa died and now he’s sobbing in front of me every day at dinner [after learning of Bowen’s sexual orientation], and I’m thinking, ‘How do I make this right?’ This is the worst thing you can do as a child of immigrants. It’s just like you don’t want your parents to suffer this much over you.”

Wow. That’s an incredibly tough burden for a child to feel! And it’s touching, in a way, how Bowen showed so much immediate love and compassion for his father even as the elder Yang struggled to acknowledge his son’s sexual orientation and identity.

MIke Pence supports gay conversion therapy
“Did someone say gay conversion therapy? I’m in!” — Mike Pence, probably. / (c) WENN/Instar

So, the 29-year-old comedian acknowledged, he decided to go along with the gay conversion therapy appointments, viewing it as a “thought experiment.” His open-mindedness didn’t last long, though. The more research he did on the controversial process, the more skeptical the SNL star became:

“Even though the more that I read up on it, I was just like, ‘Oh, wait, this is all completely crackers.'”


Related: Thank Goodness The State Of California Banned This Crap!

Ultimately, the “pseudoscience” involved in the therapy turned him off, as well as the “religious agenda” surrounding the whole process. But fortunately, it didn’t turn him off to a relationship with his father!

As the young star explains now, he’s worked hard to bridge the gap in cultural differences between him and his dad:

“It was a cultural thing for them, this cultural value around masculinity, around keeping the family line going, keeping certain things holy and sacred. It was me wanting to meet them halfway but realizing it had to be pretty absolute. It was an either-or thing. There was not that much middle ground. Eventually, I just got to this place of standing firm and being like, ‘This is sort of a fixed point, you guys. I can’t really do anything about this. So either you meet me here or you don’t meet me.'”

And though his parents may not quite be where he’d like them to be even now, the effort they’ve made to work their way down that path has been more than commendable:

“Now, they are doing a lot of work to just try to understand. I can’t rush them. I can’t resent them for not arriving at any place sooner than they’re able to get there.”

Wow. What an amazing son — so clearly concerned with honoring and doing right by his father, and his family’s legacy, while also living out his own truth and being who he was meant to be.

MUCH respect and love for you and your fam, Bowen Yang!!!

[Image via WENN/Avalon]

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Jan 28, 2020 10:21am PDT