Bowen Yang joined Saturday Night Live in 2018 as a writer and quickly became a beloved part of the cast in the 2019-2020 season. (My personal favorite Bowen Yang character: “bitchy” Kim Jong-un.) In this all-too-brief profile at GQ, Bowen talks to Chris Gayomali about how the elder Yang’s insistence on conversion therapy ended up as bonding opportunities for father and son.
At one point during lunch, Bowen tells a story about how his parents found an “open chat window” on the family computer, which is how they learned that Bowen was gay. “I had never seen my dad cry before up until that point,” says Bowen. “And I was coming home from school every day to him sobbing.”
Soon, Dad pitches Bowen on the idea of conversion therapy to “fix” his queerness. It wasn’t that the family was religious or anything. It was more: “We solve problems in this house, and this feels like a solution,” explains Bowen. “We’re not really going to look into how it’s destructive or bad or terrible.” So a 17-year-old Bowen, perhaps implicitly understanding that his parents may be operating from a place of fear, opens up a little bit of space in his heart and goes, “Okay, if it means you’ll stop being this sad…then sure.”