ANIMIZE Magazine Volume 3 Issue 5 September 2018 - Page 43

Pray the Gay Away tells the story of a mother’s struggle with acceptance. That struggle is compounded by the fact that authors, twins Michael and Zach Zakar, are both gay. ‘We originally thought it would have a primarily gay audience but from the reviews we soon realized we weren’t writing a coming out journey, we were writing our mother’s journey of acceptance. And many moms [have] connected to our message.’

The Zakar twins studied film and originally conceived the project as a film. ‘When we both came out to our Middle Eastern mother, who threw holy water on us, we thought about making a campy movie based on some of the crazy things our mother said and did. But as our coming out journey keep unveiling it became too much to fit into a film so we decided a book was better suited.’ The first time authors admit that their rewrites and disagreements over adjectives were only part of the process of sharing their story. ‘We soon realized the marketing for a book is much harder than writing it.’

Writing alternating chapters, Michael and Zach chronicle their individual and shared coming out experiences. Zach draws on a series of movie references to frame his story, musing in the book’s first chapter ‘I’ve officially fallen down the rabbit hole. When Alice woke up it was all a dream. Can I be so lucky?’ Michael employs religion to frame his chapters. ‘I’m a firm believer in the three-sip rule: don’t say you hate or like something unless you taste it three times. It’s a Holy Trinity of sorts. And I’ll try anything three times. Stopping in our tracks, I go in for a third kiss.’

‘The whole point of Pray the Gay Away, was to show people that it’s easy to give in to anger over your parent’s reactions to your coming out. But it’s a reminder that underneath it all, your parents are human and they make errors.’ The bond the twins possess is evident in their story, and how they relied on each other for support through their coming out. But they also recognize that few people have this built in support system, which is why they developed the MyTwin Chat app. ‘It’s a free text base service where users in the coming out process can privately talk to us or create discussion boards with MyTwin users. Our concept was I had a twin when I came out, now so do you.’

The Zakar twins have embraced their role as LGBT Middle Eastern advocates, and hope that by sharing their story they can help other in the community. They continue to explore ways to share their story and are currently working to adapt Pray the Gay Away for the stage. With all they are doing to try and help others, one has to ask how this has changed their lives. ’It’s actually strengthened our relationship with our mother. Don’t get us wrong, we still get into plenty of arguments over LGBT issues with our parents. It’s almost like the older we get, we take on the role of becoming our parents. And parenting our parents.’