Thursday 21 June 2018

'He put love above shame ' - YouTuber Riyadh Khalaf praised for sharing story of father's turnaround after attempting suicide over son's sexuality

Riyadh shared his story on RTE One's Cutting Edge

Riyadh Khalaf on Cutting Edge, RTE One
Riyadh Khalaf on Cutting Edge, RTE One
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Viewers have praised Riyadh Khalaf after he shared his moving story of coming out as gay to his Muslim father.

The 27-year-old YouTuber is best known for his 2015 viral video in which he shared his Grindr messages with his mother, but the process of coming out to his parents, and particularly his father, was very difficult.

Speaking to Brendan O'Connor on Cutting Edge on RTE One on Wednesday night, Riyadh said he came out to his Irish mother first but they kept the news from his Iraqi father for a further nine months.

"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.  It's full of shame, it's full of fear.  It's seen as a sickness.  It's just not good."

He said his father took it "incredibly difficultly" and revealed that his mother's "main fear" was how to break the news to her husband.

During that time he said he "grew further and further and further apart from [his father] for fear of what I knew was to come".

His father's reaction was as he expected; "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.'"

Riyadh later found out that his father had "attempted suicide because of the way I was" and added that this was "incredibly difficult to hear" as he felt he was the "catalyst" for that.

However, his father emerged from that experience with a change of heart.

"In the year after he tried that I can't tell you the turnaround he has had," revealed Rihadh.  "He is the most loving, most embracing,  pro-gay, Pride-marching, drag queen-befriending dad I could ever ask for."

He added, "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.

Riyadh became emotional as he added, "I love him.  I love him so much."

Viewers praised Riyadh following his appearance on the show.

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