Bookworm Sez - An Upbeat Guidebook for Before and After Coming Out

Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? A Gay Boy’s Guide to Life, by Riyadh Khalaf, c. 2019, Frances Lincoln,    $14.99, 223 pages

The light beneath the door is just a sliver.

It’s enticing, though, and you’re eager to see what’s on the other side, finally ready to open that door and come out. In Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? by Riyadh Khalaf, you’ll find some advice for doing it.

For a while, months, maybe years, you’ve been “feeling different.” You think you might be gay, and that’s “okay, it’s normal, and it’s not something you need to change,” Khalaf writes. Or you may be bi or pan or non-binary – “it simply comes down to how you feel” and it may have everything or nothing to do with the anatomy you got at birth. The thing to remember is that “YOU CANNOT CHANGE WHO YOU ARE.”

This may cause a lot of worry, for yourself and for people you love. Recognize that anxiety before it goes wild, and know how to break the cycle. Being gay, says Khalaf, is actually a gift, as you’ll eventually begin to see.

That’s a gift you can share or not, he says, because “you can come out whenever and however you want.” It’s your call. Yes, family members might freak out at first and your friends might retreat, but you’ll find advice on how to cope with that and a reminder that “almost every relationship is salvageable.”

So, let’s say you’re out, comfortable with it, and you’re ready to find your first true love. It’s OK to go online and look, but Khalaf says to be wary: You know how easy it is to pretend you’re someone you’re not when you’re on a computer, so be safe. Also be safe when you go to clubs or parties, and remember that protecting your heart is important, too. Relationships can be different, your first kiss can be amazing, and your body may respond in embarrassing ways to all of the above. And on that note, remember that consent is the new hot…

Here’s the key thing you’ll need to know about Yay! You’re Gay! Now What?: Absolutely anyone can read it – including parents and allies – but it’s really geared toward gay teen boys and young men. Indeed, Khalaf includes pages expressly for those allies and parents, but later parts of the book are filled with valid information that may be more graphic than they’ll want.

Still, that info will speak directly to the heart and the health of young men just coming out, in a way that’s not stuffy or clinical, but more lightheartedly factual. Khalaf is gay and he uses personal anecdotes as tools to teach, but he’s not pious or pushy. Instead, there’s a whole lot of care and camaraderie in these pages. The words “you are not alone” are not just written – they also leap from each page.

That could make this book a lifesaver for a young man with a dawning understanding but a short support system.

Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? is serious but fun to read, and it may help to shed some light.





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