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Bowen Yang comments for the first time on SNL's Shane Gillis scandal, recalls his parents putting him in gay conversion therapy

  • Yang, the first Asian-American cast member in Saturday Night Live history, has become a breakout star in his four months on the show. However, the casting of Yang, who is also gay, was overshadowed by the hiring of Shane Gillis, who was found to have used anti-gay and and an anti-Asian slur. “I truly didn’t feel like it took away anything,” Yang, who stayed out of the fray by vacationing in Turks and Caicos when the news broke, told The New York Times' Maureen Dowd in a wide-ranging interview. “It was just this kind of weird coinciding thing. And the reason I didn’t comment on it was because there was a sense of opposition being created between the two of us, right? But a lot of it was invented because it wasn’t like he was making any comments about me specifically. So I felt like that gave me agency to move away from the situation. And then a thing that Lorne (Michaels) said to me, too, while that was all happening, which kind of gave me a lot of comfort, weirdly. He said ‘The last thing I want you to do is be the poster child of racial harmony.’ And for some reason it gave me the freedom to not even really do anything at all.” Michaels noted that “everyone wants Bowen as a Voice Of and that’s a lot of pressure on him. But he’s remarkably funny and consistent." Yang also recalled his father crying when he came out, and his parents sending him to see a gay conversion specialist where they lived in Colorado. “I allowed myself the thought experiment of: ‘What if this could work?’” Yang says. “Even though as I read up on it, I was just like, ‘Oh, wait, this is all completely crackers." He added: “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.”

    TOPICS: Bowen Yang, NBC, Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels, Shane Gillis, Asian Americans and TV, LGBTQ