Youtuber Riyadh Khalaf became internet famous in 2015 after posting a hilarious video where he made his Irish mom read his Grindr messages. But as humorous and light-hearted as that video was, Riyadh’s journey to coming out to his parents, particularly his father, was not an easy road.
Now, in a new TV interview, 27-year-old Riyadh talks in detail about how, after coming out to his mom, they both agreed to keep it a secret from his Iraqi father.
“He was brought up Muslim and in Islamic culture and in that world, as many of us know, it’s not okay to be gay most of the time,” Riyadh explains. “It’s full of shame, it’s full of fear. It’s seen as a sickness. It’s just not good.”
When he finally did come out to his dad nine months later, Riyadh says, he didn’t take it well.
He completely broke down and he was on the floor, on his knees, saying, ‘why, why, why, why you? Why you? Why this way? Why does it have to be gay?’ and I’m looking at him and I’m kind of going, ‘You? It’s me who has to live with this and me who has to go through a world that doesn’t really accept me for who I am.’
Sadly, it gets worse.
Riyadh later learned that shortly after that his father “attempted suicide because of the way I was.”
Learning this, he says, was was “incredibly difficult to hear” as he felt he was the “catalyst” for his father’s agony.
But then, things changed.
After the suicide attempt, Riyadh says, his father became a different person.
“In the year after he tried that I can’t tell you the turnaround he has had,” Rihadh explains. “He is the most loving, most embracing, pro-gay, Pride-marching, drag queen-befriending dad I could ever ask for.”
Today, their relationship is stronger than ever before.
My dad is my idol, my mentor, my world and without him I would be half the man I am today. He changed not by accident, he changed because he wanted to. He put love above shame and he put me above everyone else’s opinions.
Watch the powerful interview below.