The Zakar Twins, Michael and Zach, who both identify as gay, are coming to the Cowles Center Sept. 21-22 for their “Pray the Gay Away” tour.
“Some moms cry, some moms hug you. Our mom threw holy water at us.”
This is the story of how Michael and Zach Zakar, twin brothers, came out to their Christian Iraqi mother as gay. Yes, both of them.
As first-generation Iraqi-Americans who grew up in the suburbs of Detroit, Michael and Zach Zakar grew up with essentially no vocabulary to describe their sexual orientation.
“It was insane because in Iraq, the translation for ‘gay’ is seen as negative, and in some dialects the word ‘gay’ doesn’t even exist. So in our household, it was truly looked at as a disease because the actual word didn’t make much sense to our parents,” the Zakar Twins say. “In Iraq, faith comes first, so when we both figured out we were gay, we really thought we were going to die.”
The obstacles they both faced as gay Iraqi men led them to cowriting their book Pray the Gay Away. The book follows Michael and Zach on their coming out journey as their Christian Iraqi mother tries to “de-gay” them. The play, which is currently touring, is a comedic version of their story. The twins will stop at the Cowles Center in Minneapolis on Sept. 21 and 22.
“It’s been amazing—we really show that as fraternal twins, we did not choose this; we are who we are,” the twins say. “We never thought we would come out, and now we’re doing a national tour on our story to the world. We’re both lucky we have built-in support on this journey together, because the chance to tell your story this publicly for two Midwest kids does not happen every day!”
Though Zach and Michael both identify as Christians, they say that first and foremost, they identify as being gay.
“We always say we identify with being gay before we identify with being Christian. In this journey of being gay Christian males, we have learned truly how to accept others and treat them as you want to be treated,” they say.
Though this journey has allowed the twins to fully embrace who they were born to be, they say that it has actually made them less spiritual overall.
“Everyone needs faith and something to believe in, but we unfortunately have seen the negatives of what religion can do. We have come to a happy medium with our mom, but it’s still a struggle,” they say.
So far, the Zakar Twins’ Pray the Gay Away book and play have led them down a very successful path.
“We have [been] fortunate to be on Comedy Central’s Tosh.0, MarcoMarco Fashion show, and [to] partner with many companies like MAC, the Trevor Project, and OraQuick,” they say. “Our social media started with selfies and has become a full blown LLC. This journey has been exciting because we’re reaching a big market like Iraq, New York, London, without being there in real time.”
How do the twins keep up with the quickly evolving world around them? Well, sex appeal, of course! “We always want a light, sexy spin on advocacy because it gets people’s attention more.”
When asked what the Zakar Twins want their audiences to take away from their show, they had, appropriately, a comical response: “Chlamydia.”
“No, just kidding. We want our audience to have a good time! Gay or straight, the play focuses on many topics that viewers will relate to,” they say.
For more information about the Zakar Twins, their book, the Pray the Gay Away tour, or to vote on “who’s the hot one,” visit www.zakartwins.com.