Riyadh Khalaf is an Irish YouTuber and presenter of a BBC Three series Queer Britain.
Khalaf recently attended a Pride Reception at Downing Street hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May. He had a few qualms about attending the event, ideologically, due to the agenda of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), with whom May's government cut a deal in exchange for votes in order to govern.
In a recent vlog, he discussed his objections, namely the sort of attitudes to homosexuality in Northern Ireland, embodied by the DUP, that promote division and encourage young LGBT people to feel shame for their sexuality.
He said in the video that he felt an understanding with Theresa May during her speech when she talked about encouraging and continuing narratives of equality in her own party.
In her speech the Prime Minister said:
And like millions of other people in this country, I have changed my own mind on a number of the policy issues which I was confronted with when I first became an MP twenty years ago.
If those votes were today, yes I would vote differently.
And when I was a member of the shadow cabinet before the 2010 general election, I was proud to establish a Contract for Equalities which first committed my Party to taking forward equal marriage.
I was proud to give it my full support in government as one of the sponsors of the bill which delivered it.
I believe that equal marriage will be one of the proudest legacies of my Party’s time in office.
However, this did not stop Riyadh from wanting to challenge the Prime Minister on her deal with DUP, and he was given the opportunity to speak with her (skip to around 12 minutes into the below video):
He asked her:
Look, myself and a lot of people in Ireland and here in the UK are very, very worried about the DUP deal.
What they stand for is hugely damaging to young LGBT people in Northern Ireland.
I get hundreds of emails from these young LGBT people talking about self-harm, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, struggles with coming out - it's that message that the DUP put out, that segregation and lack of equality that makes these kids feel worse than they already do.
It makes them feel different, other, and just lost. I hope you resist any of that LGBT sentiment that they have and stop it from leaking into your government and also push them, with your power, on subjects like marriage equality in Northern Ireland.
Riyadh says she replied, to his surprise:
Yes, yes I understand and I agree.
She also said she hadn't had time to watch his programme yet, and he implored her to do so.
Riyadh told indy100:
Initially, I was apprehensive about meeting the Prime Minister, considering her chequered past on LGBTQ+ equality but having spoken to her face to face, I'm happy I made the decision to go.
Humanising the issues facing the community is vital.
People like the Prime Minister get to connect with those who live through the struggles of being 'different' rather than simply reading about us in cold statistics.