Great story, I recommend reading the whole thing at the link. I love how nothing is sugarcoated; it's raw and real.
Sam Khalaf and his son Riyadh used to call themselves the two musketeers. When Riyadh was growing up in Bray, south of Dublin, they were inseparable. Like twins or best friends, they say. So the Iraqi-born, Irish citizen remembers keenly the moment when he realised his eldest child had drifted from him.
“We used to go everywhere together,” 54-year-old Sam recalls. “Every weekend we’d go to a tropical fish shop and pick out which koi carp to go into our pond. The first time Riyadh didn’t come with me, he was about 15. And the lad who worked there said: ‘Where’s your mate?’ I said, ‘He’s grown up now, he’s out with his friends.’ It was a shock to the system.”
The bigger shock was yet to come. Riyadh had stopped hanging out with his dad because he realised he was gay – a revelation he did not think his Muslim father, a garage owner with a passion for football and cars, would take well.
He was right: it took him another year, and when Riyadh came out to his dad, Sam says it “came like a fast train, it hit me very hard. Those couple of words didn’t register. I was going, ‘Shit, is he? Fuck, fuck!’”
The coming-out drama forms part of a new book by Riyadh, an Irish YouTuber and broadcaster, whose bright, conversational guide to being a young gay man – Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? – offers salient advice on topics from gender identity to anal sex. There is also a necessary chapter written from the parents’ perspective, by Sam and Riyadh’s mother, Lorraine.
We meet in Riyadh’s flat in London. Both men are as candid as the book, particularly with each other. Riyadh, 28, recalls that he was flamboyant as a child. In his book, he writes that, “I was king of the sissy boys, growing up. I loved running around the house in my mother’s pink silk nightgown, black stilettos and anything I could find that sparkled.” At seven, his father told him to start acting like a boy. “I was worried he was too gentle, I needed to toughen him up,” Sam says now. When Riyadh was in his early teens, in addition to hiking or fishing, his dad took him to karate. “I thought, he was going to get the shit beaten out of him, so I wanted him to toughen up. I saw him as soft.”
"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."
- Edgar Allan Poe
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