‘SNL’ star Bowen Yang described his experience with gay conversion therapy as a teenager

Bowen yang
Bowen Yang. Evan Agostini/AP
  • Bowen Yang opened up to People about being placed in gay conversion therapy as a teenager.
  • Yang said there was a “huge chasm of misunderstanding” between him and his parents.
  • He first spoke about his time in gay conversion therapy in January 2020.
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Bowen Yang shared his experience from being sent to gay conversion therapy by his parents as a teenager.

In an interview with People, the “Saturday Night Live” star said “there was a huge chasm of misunderstanding” between him and his parents at the time.

“Neither side really understood where the other was coming from, and it led to very dangerous situations overall,” Yang, 30, said.

Despite that, “what was always constant was the intention of love from both sides,” Yang told the outlet. “It pushed me into questioning what it meant, what was protected and what I should be protective about in terms of being a queer person. I don’t take it for granted.”

In January 2020, Yang revealed his experience with gay conversion therapy for the first time during an interview with The New York Times. He said his parents discovered Yang was gay after they found “lewd conversations” with someone over AOL Instant Messanger.

“I’d only seen my father cry when my grandpa died and now he’s sobbing in front of me every day at dinner. And I’m thinking, ‘How do I make this right?'” Yang told the Times. “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 arrived home from school one day and learned his father scheduled eight sessions with a specialist who worked in gay conversion therapy.

“I allowed myself the thought experiment of: ‘What if this could work?'” Yang told the Times. “Even though as I read up on it, I was just like, ‘Oh, wait, this is all completely crackers.'”

Yang said he and his parents are now in a “healthy place” since that experience more than a decade ago. They’ve become supportive of him and his career on “Saturday Night Live.”

“There has been a nice shift where they go, ‘Great job,'” Yang told People.

Yang, who worked as a “Saturday Night Live” writer before joining the show in 2019 as the first Asian cast member, recently made headlines in May for his viral “Iceberg that Sank the Titanic” sketch.

“They think, ‘Wow, he pulled it off.’ And my mom said to me recently, she was like, ‘Bowen, you’re very lucky to be doing this.’ And I was like, ‘I know mom,'” said Yang.