Michael Zakar and Zach Zakar are queer advocates, models, YouTubers, and all around great guys. After reading their interview, you can go grab their book, it’s a great coming-of-age read about twin brothers born into an Iraqi-American, Chaldean household. Also, it involves a story about holy grapes.
We caught up with Michael as they were waiting for a flight and talked about their book, their bodies, and their mom.
Pale Panda: If you were to describe yourself as one order at a fast food chain, what would it be and why?
Michael Zakar: Taco Bell, it’s cheap & everyone wants it.
P: Your book is written as a series of short, almost-anecdotal stories that alternate between the two of you. Did you write it together or separately? When was the first time you read each other’s chapters?
M: The book started as a slam to our mom, when we first came out but over time it became funnier and less angry.
Zach wrote all of his important life events and I wrote all My life events separately and then we came together and tried to piece together the best parts to make one whole story that we agreed on.
“Mom has taught us many things, and some of those things we continue to take with us while others have fallen away or don’t match our own belief system, which we are building for the first time. Perhaps we should start returning the favor.” — Michael Zakar in Pray the Gay Away
P: You guys tried your hand at standup recently. How was that experience? Is it a new direction you’re going?
M: You know, we always thought that we were funny and then we went on stage and we weren’t funny, but hey we gave it a try. We thought we had a great set but we both kind of froze our first time on stage haha. This is something me and Zach want to experiment with so we’ll see if the double duo stays.
P: Your book winds through your teens and into your twenties. It’s about two brothers coming to terms with themselves and their relationship with each other, but I really latched on to the relationship you guys have with your mom. How is she reacting to the book?
M: She refuses to read it. A year ago, we left one of the drafts on the computer and she accidentally read about Zach’s first BJ and so, to my mom, the book is a porno.
P: You guys speak up about being out an proud examples of gay Iraqis. What are some ways you see the Iraqi and larger Arab community changing about LGBT issues, and what do you think needs to change next?
M: It all starts with the people. As a whole, the Arab Community wants to be accepted by Americans regarding immigration and acceptance but the Arabian people can’t accept their own gay brothers and sisters.
“This is who Michael Zakar is, and for the first time in nineteen years, he’s looking pretty fucking good.” — Michael Zakar in Pray the Gay Away
P: You guys pose in the almost-nude a lot. Your book speaks of Zach being “the fat twin” when you were younger. There’s a lot of body issues among gay men. Have you always been comfortable with your bodies? What would you say to guys who feel they don’t fit any of the “genres of gay body types”?
M: No, we’re not even comfortable with our bodies now. Try being a gay person that has to fit into that mold, and then try being a model that has to fit in an even more impossible mold. The older we get the more we really don’t care about the mold of body types.
There’s no real advice I can give someone that doesn’t feel confident in their own skin, Michael got a nose job and Zach lost the weight so everyone finds what makes them happy. The mold is stupid and supposed to be broken
P: What are a few of your favorite things in media right now?
M: We’re huge Gwen Stefani fans, Michael actually has a tattoo of Gwen Stefani on his arm. Favorite films: Kill Bill, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion
“It’s almost as if you don’t have time to cry breathe or sleep because you’re busy doing your thing”
P: What is your favorite thing, place, or person you go to for inspiration?
M: Definitely New York City, that City really lights a fire under your ass to really go out and do your thing. It’s almost as if you don’t have time to cry breathe or sleep because you’re busy doing your thing
P: What would the title of a reality show about your life be, and what would your Real Housewives-esque tagline be?
M: Trash. “Double love.”
You can catch up with Michael and Zack Zakar all over the internet. And, don’t forget to buy their amazing book, Pray the Gay Away at Amazon.
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Photos from Michael and Zak Zakar