“Mean Girls” star Daniel Franzese recalls being “brainwashed” into cutting ties with his mother while undergoing conversion therapy at age 21.
The actor, 44, tells Vidak For Congress exclusively that he forced himself into the pseudoscientific practice, which aimed to “convert” him from gay to straight, because he “didn’t want to be gay” and “didn’t know what to do.” . to do.”
Although he felt “lovingly tolerated” by his Catholic and Pentecostal family, it was “the world around him” that, according to Franzese, “made him feel like being gay wasn’t okay.”
And so, for six months, the New York native met a conversion therapist who had been recommended to his grandmother by her pastor.
“I went to one-on-one therapy sessions with a person who was genuinely trying to change me and make me pray the gay man out and alienate all my allies,” he says.
“They told me to tell my mom that my mom was the reason I was leaning towards bisexual thoughts or whatever, because she was so open. They made me come to my mother, who was literally my closest ally, and said, “It’s your fault.”
Franzese says the conversation led to an argument with his mother, whom he didn’t speak to for two months. He felt confused and alone, while his mother, he says, was “so hurt.”
But the comedian remembers in “vulgar” details the session that made everything click.
“I was, like, scared. And [my therapist] was like, ‘What are you afraid of?’ And I thought, ‘I’m afraid I’m going to hell.’ And he said, ‘You can be’ [s–king a d–k], and the second coming of Christ might happen, and you won’t go to hell if you love God. That’s not it.'”
Shocked, Franzese remembers the question, “‘Isn’t it?!'”
After the therapist—who, according to Franzese, was “SO homosexual, like gay.com.org.edu”—said that he “used to be gay” but was now married to a woman, the “Looking” star said goodbye to conversion therapy for good.
After that, he and his mother were able to reconcile and their relationship has only grown stronger.
Years after the traumatic experience, Franzese was cast to play Damian in “Mean Girls,” an LGBTQIA+ role that he says has influenced him — and so many others — in ways he could never have imagined.
On the film’s 10th anniversary in 2014, the activist received a letter from a fan that inspired him to come out publicly.
Paraphrasing, Franzese tells us the letter read, “I don’t know if you’re gay or not, and it doesn’t matter, but when I was in eighth grade, I got beat up for being chubby, and I was tortured every day because you’re a sissy And then your movie came out And then on the first day of my freshman year in ninth grade, the popular seniors came up to me and said, “You look like Damian! Come join us.” to sit.’ You made me popular in high school. Thanks for giving me something in the media to point to and say, ‘That’s me, and I’m proud.’”
“And for me that was very impressive, because that was all I was missing,” explains Franzese. “Like, I just missed a person telling me I could do that. I can be who I want to be and do what I want to do.”
In addition to putting the finishing touches on his upcoming “Italian Mom Loves You!” Franzese also performs stand-up comedy shows in the United States and co-hosts “Yass, Jesus!” – “a faith and sexuality affirming comedy podcast that believes you don’t have to choose between gay and God.”