Yay! You're gay! Or maybe you're bi. Or maybe you just feel different… in time, that difference will become the greatest gift you could ask for. It will bring you love, a sense of identity, a new community, and eventually the freedom to be yourself. I promise! In this personal, heartfelt go-to guide for young queer guys, YouTuber and presenter Riyadh Khalaf shares frank advice about everything from coming out to relationships, as well as interviews with inspirational queer role models, and encouragement for times when you're feeling low. There's a support section for family and friends written by Riyadh's parents and LOADS of hilarious, embarrassing, inspiring and moving stories from gay boys around the world. Includes chapters on: • Labels – what does it mean to be gay, bi, trans or queer? • Coming out • Your first crush • Dealing with bullies • Learning to love your body • Sex ed for gay guys • Coping with embarrassing moments • Finding your tribe
|Publisher:||Frances Lincoln Children's Books|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||11 - 16 Years|
About the Author
Riyadh Khalaf is a presenter and YouTube creator and one of the internet generation's most prominent LGBT faces. His media career began at age 16 when he launched a pirate radio station from his bedroom. Since then he has presented and produced award-winning radio in Ireland and Australia. His BBC series Queer Britain aired on BBC1 and he has presented original online content for MTV UK, The Guardian, and RTÉ. Riyadh's YouTube channel has amassed over 350,000 subscribers. Originally from Dublin, he now lives in London.
Read an Excerpt
WHY DO I FEEL DIFFERENT?
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Why do I feel all fuzzy and weird when I look at that guy? Why don't I feel the same way when I look at girls?
This question has gone through millions of gay boys' heads since, well, forever! The fuzzy feeling can pop up like an unexpected boner (more on those to come) and can go away just as fast. Just remember that it's okay, it's normal, and it's not something you need to change.
Let's call that feeling a "tingle." I had my first tingle for a guy when I was about seven years old, watching the Disney movie Aladdin. Yes, my first crush was on a cartoon character. At least he was human! Princess Jasmine, his love interest, was just an annoying bystander to me. I was incredibly envious of her because she got to hug and kiss my Arabian prince. Aladdin had gorgeous olive skin, wavy black hair, and a cheeky boy-next-door smile. I was mesmerised. I didn't know it then, but a baby gay was born that day.
Figuring out if you're gay isn't a complicated scientific process — it simply comes down to how you feel. Only YOU can know what's going on inside your head. Being attracted to someone of the same sex doesn't necessarily mean you're gay or bi. Maybe you just admire their talents or their personality. Even though I'm super gay, I was obsessed with one of my first teachers, Miss Donovan. Her hair was always perfect, she was so friendly, and she smelled of what I now know is Burberry Weekend perfume. (Sometimes I shock myself with how wonderfully gay I am. What other male student would have been able to pinpoint a perfume brand at the age of ten? Being gay really is a superpower.) I thought I had a crush on Miss Donovan, but it turned out I just idolized her — I didn't have romantic feelings for her.
So try not to jump to any conclusions about your sexuality. Allow yourself time to feel different things and don't shut any of them out. If you find your eyes wandering and looking at other boys, then let them. If they wander and look at girls too, that's cool. Allow yourself to fantasize about being close to the person who has caught your eye and see how it feels. Eventually you'll know what feels natural for you. Maybe you're attracted to men, or women, or men and women, or non-binary people. Or maybe you don't have sexual feelings for anyone. However you feel, it's valid.
If you've realized you're probably not straight, then you've reached what I like to call the PCO or Pre-Coming-Out stage. This is one of the most important stages of your journey — the moment you have to say the words you may have been afraid of to yourself: "I am gay." (Or queer, or bi ...) My PCO took about four years. I tried to trick myself into being straight by thinking about boobs nonstop and ignoring guys who were totally stunning and, in hindsight, deserved my undivided gay attention. There's one thing I now know for sure: no matter how hard you try and fight it, YOU CANNOT CHANGE WHO YOU ARE. The longer you try to suppress the real you, the longer and harder your PCO will be.
One thing that holds many people back is the fear that once they come out, they'll have to start acting like the stereotypes of gay characters you see on TV. I am here to tell you that's not the case (unless that's who you naturally are, in which case shine baby, shine!). Coming out to yourself frees you to be more yourself than you've ever been before. LGBT+ people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They have infinite interests, talents, personalities, and flaws. Just flick through this book and see what other gay men have achieved. These men and millions like them are proof that our big gay family can do and be anything!
Stephen Fry is a writer, actor, comedian, presenter, and activist. He's written novels, nonfiction books, screenplays, musicals, and comedy sketches. With Hugh Laurie, he's half of the comedy double act Fry and Laurie. And he's the voice of the Harry Potter audio books!
STEPHEN'S ADVICE TO HIS YOUNGER SELF
Stephen, it's going to be fine. The world will change for the better. It will be achingly slow but the light will break through the clouds, I promise. Live an honest, open life and people won't despise you for it, or if they do, they won't be worth knowing: only insecure and unhappy people snigger and sneer. One day — you won't believe this now — but one day you'll even be able to marry another man, and it will seem the easiest and most natural thing in the world. The only story will be that there is no story. Just wait, the tide will turn.CHAPTER 2
* * *
What does that mess of letters and symbols mean?!
I'm going to use the acronym LGBT+ (which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, plus) in this book to stand for our big diverse queer community. This is a shortening of a much longer acronym that also includes queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, ally, pansexual ... and this STILL leaves some people out! Figuring out who you are and where you fit on the ever-growing rainbow of identities is a bit like looking for the perfect pairs of jeans. You'll know when you find something fits, because it will feel like a second skin. In other words, the questioning stage — the time you take to figure out your identity — is worth it. You might not feel like any of the labels is right for you. That's fine too. Labels can be limiting and come with a bunch of stereotypes, but they can also help you feel less lost or lonely. They can help you find a community of like-minded people — people who will probably become your best friends and supporters, because they know what it's like to be gay/lesbian/bi/pansexual/queer/trans. Being heard and understood will empower you and help build your self-confidence. But remember that your character, interests, style, and soul shouldn't change to "match" your newfound identity. Your identity just reflects the beautiful person you already are.
Also, it's totally possible to have feelings for — or even have sex with — people who are the same gender as you and not to identify as gay, or bi. And it's possible to identify as gay and still get the odd crush on girls. You do you!
There are hundreds of recognized gender identities and sexual orientations with more being discovered every day. Listing all of them here would likely take up more than half of this book, so let's just focus on the most common ones.
A term used to describe a variation in levels of romantic/sexual attraction, including a lack of attraction.
Ace people may describe themselves as asexual, aromantic, demis and grey-As.
Someone (usually straight and/ or cis) who supports members of the LGBT+ community.
A term used to describe attraction towards more than one gender.
Someone whose gender identity is the same as the sex they were assigned at birth.
Refers to a man who's attracted to men, or a woman who's attracted to women.
A term used to describe a person who may have the biological attributes of both sexes or whose biological attributes do not fit with societal assumptions about what constitutes male or female. Intersex people may identify as male, female or non-binary.
Refers to a woman who's attracted to women.
An umbrella term for people whose gender identity doesn't sit comfortably with "man" or "woman". Some non-binary people identify with some aspects of binary identities, while others reject them entirely. Sometimes shortened to NB or enby.
Refers to a person whose attraction towards others isn't limited by sex or gender.
QUEER In the past, this was a derogatory term for LGBT+ people, but the term has now been reclaimed by LGBT+ people – particularly young people – who don't identify with the traditional categories of gender identity and sexual orientation. Some LGBT+ people still regard it as a derogatory term.
The process of exploring your sexuality or gender identity.
An umbrella term to describe people whose gender is not the same as, or does not sit comfortably with, the sex they were assigned at birth.CHAPTER 3
* * *
Boys, boys, boys.
They will be the source of endless learning, heartbreak, lust, and love throughout your life. Some will come and go so fast you'll be left with love whiplash. Others will stick around for longer and make a lifelong impression on you. Boys can be terrible (I'm not bitter, promise). But they can also be incredible one-person joy factories that will bring you endless passion and love. No matter how many guys become part of your journey, there's nothing quite like the tsunami of emotions that comes with your first gay crush.
The first time most of us fall in love, it's with a straight boy who's oblivious to our affections. Your first crush probably won't turn out to be your Prince Charming, but you'll still learn a lot from falling for him. My first crush was the unforgettable Sam. He taught me how to deal with unrequited love and rejection — skills that came in VERY handy a decade later when I found myself in the war zone of online dating — and he truly helped me accept my gayness. I never got to thank him for that, sadly. He was a work of art — he looked as though he had just stepped out of a high-school movie with his chiseled facial features, cheeky grin, boyish confidence, and smooth, tanned skin ... and he had a body that would make you go weak at the knees. He was one of the rugby guys, and I knew he was pretty much off-limits for me. But that didn't stop me strategically choosing my classroom seat so that I could spend the 45-minute period staring longingly across the room at him, wondering, "What if?" That might make me sound like a bit of a creep, but I was obsessed with him. In a time before internet porn, just looking at him was enough to get me going. Simpler times ...CHAPTER 4
* * *
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. I hadn't yet been affected by the suffocating expectations of masculinity that society imposes on us boys. My fun was swiftly ended by my father, who ordered me to start acting like a boy. The only problem was that, for me, this was what boyhood was all about. I thought, "I like being a boy. I also like dresses and pretty things. I want to be a boy who can sometimes wear dresses and pretty things." To seven-year-old Riyadh, it was that simple. To everyone else, it broke some invisible law of boyhood and I had to be stopped before I embarrassed myself and my family. I remember feeling lost for a while. I knew I liked "girly" things, but I knew I couldn't have them. Why? Because I was a boy. It seemed like the biggest injustice in the world. I began to think, "If I want to be happy, then I'll probably have to be a girl." But I was wrong.
Sex is about your anatomy — you're assigned "male" or "female'" at birth depending on whether you're born with a penis or a vagina. But gender is different. It's about how society expects you to behave as a result of your sex. You know the stereotypes — girls are supposed to like pink things, and crying at rom-coms. Boys are supposed to be strong and not show their emotions, and like sports and cars. But who says pink is for girls? As late as 1927, Time magazine was recommending that boys be dressed in pink and girls in blue! And who says that boys can't wear makeup? Until the mid-19th century, both men and women wore it.
Your gender identity is different again — it's your understanding of yourself as male or female, or a mixture of both, or neither, and how you present yourself to the world. It goes far beyond liking pink and sequins, or fighting and cars. Your gender identity can be the same as the sex you were assigned at birth, or different. Transgender people have a gender identity that's different from the sex they were assigned at birth. Some trans people go through a "transition'" to try to align their internal gender with their outward appearance. Some start wearing clothes that are associated with the opposite gender and change the pronouns they use — from "he/ him" to "she/ her," for example. Some change their bodies by taking drugs or having surgery.
The gender binary — the idea that there are just two genders: male and female — is oldfashioned. Some people who don't feel their gender identity fits comfortably in the traditional categories of male and female classify themselves as non-binary, or genderqueer, and lots of them prefer gender-neutral pronouns, like "they/them," "xe" or "hir."
Gender identity and sexual orientation are two completely separate things. Trans people can be gay, straight, bi, or pansexual — who you're attracted to has nothing to do with your gender identity. If gender is a sliding scale from female to male, I would say that I'm comfortable with my male identity as long as I can occasionally wander into that glorious middle ground. It's only now, at age 27, that I have managed to shake off some of the gender shackles placed on me as a kid. I now mix pieces from the women's section into my wardrobe and allow the femme inside me to shine after years of trying to suppress her. It's fun not caring what people think!
Being proud of your identity is a massive part of the journey to self-love. Many trans people start out thinking that in order to be happy they'll have to "pass" as cisgender. The truth is, being trans is beautiful. But a 2017 survey conducted by LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall showed that almost half of trans students in the UK had attempted suicide. It's a shocking statistic that proves just how difficult it is for young people who struggle with their gender identity. It's important to know that if you are going through a tough time, there is help out there. Check out the Useful Contacts section at the back of this book for helpful numbers and websites. You have a family of people cheering you on all over the world.
The battle for acceptance currently faced by the trans community in the UK and US is similar to the one fought by gay men and lesbians 20 years ago. It's SO important for the queer community to stand shoulder to shoulder at all times. We are so much stronger together.CHAPTER 5
ANXIETY & WORRY
* * *
"Relax. You're fine, I'm fine, everything is going to be fine. Worrying that something awful is about to happen doesn't mean that thing is any more or less likely to happen. Let go of those thoughts and just live."
— Lorraine Khalaf (my mom)
Anxiety is the worst. As humans, there's no escaping this weird, fear-inducing, shaky feeling that washes over us when we least expect it. Unlike a physical injury, people cannot always see that you're suffering from anxiety. Even if they do know, they may not understand enough about how anxiety works to be able to help you. This makes the whole thing even more difficult. When you're feeling anxious, you may be physically present in a room but only 30% there mentally, because of the sea of thoughts rushing through your brain.
My battle with chronic anxiety began when I was nine years old. A few things happened to trigger it: my grandfather died, and my little brother had a couple of scary episodes where he stopped breathing. I started having major panic attacks whenever my mother left the house without me. I truly believed that when she walked out of the door, I'd never see her again. I had visions of her suffering a bad car traffic accident or being stabbed in a parking lot. She would go out for Chinese food with her friends and I would call her every half an hour to make sure she was still alive.
At the time, counseling and therapy weren't the norm, so I struggled for a long time by myself. My mother eventually sat me down and talked to me — she reassured me that worrying about something didn't mean it was more likely to happen, and that everything was going to be fine.
After that, I began to take control of my feelings, but I lived with low-level anxiety for years, until I was about 23. Then, after another death in my family and the end of a long-term relationship, the panic came rushing back, hard. This time I went for cognitive behavioral therapy and it saved me. I have laid out some of the tools I learned in my therapy sessions in this chapter. I use them every day to feel calm, centered, and at peace, and to accept what I cannot control. Try them if you're feeling anxious or depressed, and tell a parent, teacher, or doctor what you're going through. There is no shame in asking for help and you won't regret it.
Anxiety is like a creepy friend who sneaks up behind you and whispers random worries into your ear. Worries you never knew you had. They silently lurk there and follow you around day to day. Nobody else can see or hear them. The more you try to make sense of the worries, the more overwhelming and confusing they can become. If your anxiety gets really bad, your thoughts begin to spiral and you might lose the ability to do everyday things like going to school, listening to people, having a conversation, laughing, or eating properly.
THE UPSIDE TO ANXIETY
It's hard to believe when you're in the middle of a panic attack, but anxiety can actually be useful. Imagine you're a Stone Age guy, about to attacked by a woolly mammoth. You need to get out of that situation, and fast. Your body releases a hormone called adrenaline that makes your body react more quickly. Your heart rate speeds up, pumping more blood to your muscles, getting them ready for action. Your breathing becomes more rapid, bringing more oxygen to the brain. Your pupils dilate, allowing more light to hit your retinas and make you more alert. This is great of you're about to run a marathon, perform at a pop concert, or escape a pack of lions, but for most of us, this isn't what we get up to on a given Wednesday afternoon.
It's totally normal to feel anxious before an interview, a school play, or a first date. That's part of the excitement of life. But the world we live in contains endless triggers that can set off anxiety. Maybe you didn't finish your school assignment or your new Insta selfie only got two likes, or your crush is walking toward you and you don't know what to say If you start feeling anxious all the time, or if you have panic attacks, then take action to pull yourself back to the safety zone.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Yay! You're GAY! Now What?"
Copyright © 2019 Riyadh Khalaf.
Excerpted by permission of The Quarto Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
"Man, are you gay?", 4,
So you think you might be gay ...,
1 Why do I feel different?, 1,
Stephen Fry's advice, 4,
2 LGBTTQQIAPP+, 7,
3 First crush, 1,
4 Gender identity, 3,
5 Anxiety & worry, 9,
6 The gift of gayness, 5,
Clark Moore's advice, 8,
7 I'm coming out, 43,
8 Your coming-out guinea pig, 47,
9 My coming-out story, 51,
10 What if your family or friends aren't supportive?, 56,
11 Being the odd one out, 61,
12 Bullies & how to deal with them, 65,
13 Sexuality & faith, 71,
Simon-Anthony Rhoden's advice, 74,
14 From my family to yours, 77,
15 Being an ally, 82,
16 My first pride, 87,
Rory O'Neill's advice, 90,
Finding friends, finding love.,
17 Finding your tribe, 95,
18 Staying safe online, 99,
19 Going out, 105,
20 Different kinds of relationships, 108,
21 First dates, 111,
James Kavanagh's advice, 114,
22 First kiss, 117,
23 Being safe in public, 121,
24 Heartbreak & breakups, 125,
Jin Yong's advice, 128,
All about bodies.,
25 What's going on with my body?, 132,
26 Awkward boners, 137,
27 Wet dreams, 143,
28 Pre-cum, 147,
29 Circumcision, 151,
30 Body image, 155,
Matthew Todd's advice, 160,
Let's talk about sex.,
31 Pushing your own buttons, 165,
32 P-O-R-N, 169,
34 Sexual consent, 172,
35 What counts as sex?, 177,
36 Doing it, 181,
37 Delayed & premature ejaculation, 189,
Shane Jenek's advice, 194,
38 Cumming!, 197,
39 Sexually transmitted diseases, 201,
Dr Ranj Singh's advice, 210,
40 My first time, 213,
That's it!, 216,
Useful Contacts, 219,