YouTuber and author Riyadh Khalaf knew that he was different from the age of 11, but struggled to come out to his Irish Catholic mother and Muslim Iraqi father. Now, he’s written a book designed to help young gay guys embrace their differences – and tonight, he and his parents will appear on the Late Late Show to chat with Ryan Tubridy about all they hope the book will achieve.
Yay! You’re Gay! Now what?: A Gay Boy’s Guide To Life, published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, comes out this May. The book, a heartfelt guide for young queer boys, offers advice on everything from coming out to relationships. There’s also a support section for family and friends, written by Riyadh’s parents.
“Over time, you eventually come out to yourself,” Riyadh says in a YouTube video on his experience of coming out. He caught himself looking at other boys in his early teens, but spent years denying his feelings and trying to feel attraction to girls. After four years of denial, though, he found he had to admit the truth about his sexuality to himself.
With that came the need to admit the truth to his parents, and Riyadh says in his video that the experiences of telling his mother and father were very different. Both parents appear with him in his video, and will share their story again on the Late Late Show tonight.
In the end, Riyadh says, he didn’t have to do all the work coming out to his mother.
“I always kind of had a feeling, but I didn’t want to put a label on Riyadh,” she says. After accidentally coming across a gay site in her son’s web browsing history, she encouraged him to share his secret.
Over the months that followed, Riyadh found himself growing increasingly distant from his Dad – unconsciously trying, he says now, to put up a defensive barrier in anticipation of a bad reaction. Finally, after an explosive argument between Riyadh and his father, Riyadh’s mother persuaded the YouTuber to break the news to his Dad. Unable to say the words “I’m gay” out loud, he came out with a written note.
Riyadh’s Dad admits that he was shocked at first, and scared of how other people would react. In his son’s video, he admits in an emotional moment that his fears almost drove him to take his own life. Now, though, he has come to terms with his son’s identity and accepts the young YouTuber for who he is.
“Every father, every mother, they love their kid,” Riyadh’s father says today. “They have to stand by them, because the only one who’s gonna stand by you is your kid.”
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