Khalid el Khatib grew up in the conventional town of Dubuque, Iowa, but in an unconventional setting that became a bigger part of his life in high school.
I was different than everyone else, not because I was gay but because my father was a Palestinian immigrant that came to the United States in his late 20s and married my mother, who was an all-American girl that was born in Wisconsin and grew up in Iowa. My dad didn’t start practicing, or did not become incredibly devout, until he was sort of middle-aged. I was in high school, and just before my parents divorced, my father was praying four times a day.
Even after coming out to his closest friends and mother at 19 years old, Khalid still struggled with telling his father.
I went to a therapist just for one session. The circumstances were unique because this therapist was part of my dad’s practice, because it was a small town and there were only so many doctors. And he, knowing who my father was, sort of said without saying, “If I were you, I wouldn’t come out to your dad.”
At that point, Khalid was still financially dependent on his father for school, and not knowing how to approach him was something that plagued Khalid even after he moved to New York City and began dating. But eventually, Khalid decided he had to come out to his father.
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I decided to fully rip the Band-Aid off, to fly home to Iowa, where my dad was still living, and to come out to him. You tell yourself internally, “I’m going to count to 5, and then I’m going to say it.”
This is Khalid’s true LGBTQ story:
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