The comedian said he went in the hopes of mending his relationship with his parents.
SNL star Bowen Yang has revealed that when he was 17 years old, he underwent gay ‘conversion’ therapy. Speaking to the New York Times, he said his sexuality had caused conflict with his parents.
Yang said he told his parents about his sexuality when he was 17 on a messaging chat, which led to his father telling him that he’d booked Yang eight sessions with a “specialist.”
“They just sat me down and yelled at me and said, ‘We don’t understand this. Where we come from, this doesn’t happen,'” Yang explained. “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?’ 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.”
It was these guilty feelings that made Yang agree to go to the ‘therapy’ sessions. “I allowed myself the thought experiment of: ‘What if this could work?’ he explained. “Even though as I read up on it, I was just like, ‘Oh, wait, this is all completely crackers.’
“At the first session, he asks me, ‘Would you like this to be Christ centered or a secular sort of experience?’ And I was like, ‘I guess nonreligious.’
“But even for him to ask that question means that there was this kind of religious agenda behind it anyway.”
Speaking about what happened during the sessions, he said: “The first few sessions were talk therapy, which I liked, and then it veers off into this place of, ‘Let’s go through a sensory description of how you were feeling when you’ve been attracted to men.’
“And then the counselor would go through the circular reasoning thing of, ‘Well, weren’t you feeling uncomfortable a little bit when saw that boy you liked?’
“And I was like, ‘Not really.’ He goes, ‘How did your chest feel?’ And I was like, ‘Maybe I was slouching a little bit.’ And he goes, ‘See? That all stems from shame.’
“It was just crazy. Explain the gay away with pseudoscience.”
Yang finished by saying although the ‘therapy’ sessions were ineffective, he isn’t in a “rush” to get his parents to accept his sexuality, admitting there are still some difficulties.
“I had this second coming out with them while I was in college and went through this whole flare-up again with them, where they couldn’t accept it,” he said.
“And then 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.'”
Gay conversion ‘therapy’, which has been discredited by the NHS and the World Psychiatric Association, refers to any attempt at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and often involves techniques like electroshock therapy or prayer.