Bowen Yang Opens Up About Undergoing Gay Conversion Therapy as a Teenager

“Both my parents are doing a lot of work to just try to understand and I can’t rush them,” Yang says

“Saturday Night Live” star Bowen Yang opened up about undergoing conversion therapy as a teenager in an interview with the New York Times over the weekend.

Yang told the Times that his father, a Chinese immigrant, had arranged the appointments for his son after discovering “lewd” instant messenger conversations Yang had been having with someone online.

“I’d only seen my father cry when my grandpa died and now he’s sobbing in front of me every day at dinner,” he said. “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.”

Yang said he entered the process viewing it as “a thought experiment” and found that he even liked some of the early talk therapy-style sessions, “Even though as I read up on it, I was just like, ‘Oh, wait, this is all completely crackers.'”

Ultimately, the “pseudoscience” and the “religious agenda” behind the entire process turned him off. Yang said he never felt anger or resentment toward his parents for their resistance, going on to describe having a “second coming out” a few years later.

“It was a cultural thing for them, this cultural value around masculinity, around keeping the family line going, keeping certain things holy and sacred,” Yang told the Times. “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,'” he said, adding that both of his parents “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,” he said.