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‘Mean Girls’ Star Daniel Franzese Was ‘Brainwashed’ Into Gay Conversion Therapy

Franzese grappled with why he "didn’t want to be gay" as a Christian man years prior to starring as fan favorite Damian in the 2004 film.

MEAN GIRLS, Lindsay Lohan, Daniel Franzese, Lizzy Caplan, 2004, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

“Mean Girls”

©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Mean Girls” alum Daniel Franzese is opening up about his coming-out story.

Franzese revealed to Page Six that he was “brainwashed” into cutting ties with his mother and undergoing conversion therapy to “convert” him to heterosexuality when he was 21 years old in 1999, five years before starring as out and proud Damian in “Mean Girls.”

The actor, who is currently working on the play “Italian Moms Love You!,” explained that he forced himself to undergo the pseudoscientific practice of conversion therapy because he “didn’t want to be gay” and “didn’t know what to do” as part of his Catholic and Pentecostal Christian faith. Franzese added that the “world around” him made him “feel like being gay was not OK.”

Franzese worked with a conversion therapist who “used to be gay” himself for six months and was recommended by Franzese’s grandmother’s pastor.

“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,” Franzese said, including his mother. “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.'”

Franzese didn’t speak with his mom for two months until he eventually addressed his root fear.

“I was, like, scared. And [my therapist] was like, ‘What are you afraid of?’ And I was like, ‘I’m afraid I’m gonna go to hell,'” Franzese said. “And he was like, ‘You can be [gay] and the second coming of Christ could happen, and you’re not going to go to hell if you love God. That’s not what it is.'”

Stand-up comic Franzese is additionally co-hosting the podcast “Yass, Jesus!” described as “a faith and sexuality affirming comedy podcast that believes you don’t have to pick between gay and God.”

As for his “Mean Girls” legacy, Franzese revealed fans have written him letters saying that his character Damian inspired them to come out. Co-star Lindsay Lohan also has shared that she’s written a treatment for a sequel film.

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