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Mean Girls star Daniel Franzese has revealed that he forced himself into conversion therapy when he was younger as he was made to 'feel like being gay was not OK'.
The 44-year-old actor is internationally recognised for his turn as Damian in the 2004 hit teen comedy, providing many of the film's most memorable quotes including 'I want my pink shirt back', 'Oh my god, Danny DeVito, I love your work', and 'You go, Glen Coco'.
Although his character was celebrated for being gay, Franzese has opened up about his difficulty in coming to terms with his sexuality when he was younger amid his religious upbringing.
Speaking to Page Six, he said he forced himself into controversial conversion therapy when he was just 21 years old in order to 'convert' him from being gay to straight, saying: "I needed help. I didn’t want to be gay. I didn’t know what to do."
Although his Catholic and Pentecostal Christian family made him feel 'lovingly tolerated', Franzese admitted that the pressures of the 'world around him' left him feeling like his sexuality was unacceptable.
As such, he was put in contact with a conversion therapist through his grandma's pastor and attended sessions for six months that left him feeling alienated from his support system.
"I went to one-on-one therapy sessions with a person who was trying to change me straight and make me pray the gay away and alienate all my allies,” he told the publication.
"They told me to tell my mom that my mom was the reason that I was leaning toward bisexual thoughts or whatever because she was so open. They made me come out to my mom, who was literally like my best ally, and say, ‘It’s your fault'."
The conversation caused a rift in their relationship, leading to them not speaking for two months as he said his mum felt 'so hurt'.
Franzese told the outlet that a breakthrough moment arrived when the conversion therapist said he 'used to be gay' but was now married to a woman.
"I didn't know if I was gay, I was looking for a diagnosis but this dude was gay," he said. "And then he was like, 'I used to be gay', and I was like, 'Used to be gay? You can't used to be gay'. And I was like, I gotta go."
Thankfully he was able to rebuild his relationship with his mum who he now shares a strong bond with, and several years later he starred in Mean Girls.
In 2014, he came out to the world in a touching open letter he wrote to his character in the film, published exclusively by IndieWire.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, contact the LGBT Foundation on 0345 3 30 30 30, 10am–6pm Monday to Friday, or email [email protected]
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