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Growing up gay wasn't easy for Irish YouTube star Riyadh Khalaf (aka "Riyadh K"), who was targeted by bullies from a very young age.

Image via Riyadh Khalaf/YouTube.


"I was being harassed about my sexuality even before I knew what my sexuality was, which was terrifying," Khalaf told Upworthy. "Because the worst fear in the world for a young gay person is that it will get home — that your parents will find out."

One classmate in particular tormented Khalaf so badly that the abuse continued to sting long after graduation.

According to Khalaf, words from the classmate, who he prefers not to name, made things so difficult it negatively affected his schoolwork and forced him to deny part of who he is for years.

"To consciously alter the way you talk, the way you walk, the things you are talking about, the questions you ask in class simply to make yourself less of a target," Khalaf says, "That's tiring. It's so exhausting. And it makes you kind of lose who you are."

Now an adult, Khalaf knew he needed closure. So he got his former bully's number from a mutual friend and called him up. And he decided to film the whole thing.

Image via Riyadh Khalaf/YouTube.

Khalaf had no idea what to expect. Would the classmate deny everything? Would he continue to insist that Khalaf had deserved it? According to Khalaf, another former bully he had tried to contact a few days earlier had refused to talk to him. Would this one clam up too, once he knew he was being recorded?

Thankfully, none of that happened.

Khalaf's classmate was a little surprised at first.

"Until this phone call, I thought we were cool anyway!" — Khalaf's classmate. GIF via Riyadh Khalaf/YouTube.

And a little defensive, at times.

"It's secondary school. You just have to take it on the chin. It is kind of what it is." — Khalaf's classmate. Secondary school = middle/high school. GIF by Riyadh Khalaf/YouTube.

But as the conversation went on, he acknowledged what he did

.

"Like we slagged on you for being gay." — Khalaf's classmate. Slagged = made fun of. GIF via Riyadh Khalaf/YouTube.

And he apologized.

"Eh, like I said, I'm really sorry. I obviously didn't know that was happening in secondary school. Feel kind of bad about it now." — Khalaf's classmate. GIF via Riyadh Khalaf/YouTube.

It was a moment Khalaf had been waiting for since secondary school.

"It was overwhelming, to be honest," Khalaf. "It was something that you play over and over in your head for years, and you're always wondering, 'What would that reaction be?'"

According to Khalaf, the classmate gladly gave him permission to share the video on his popular YouTube channel.

"He said, 'Absolutely. Go for it,'" Khalaf said. "'Cause I explained the positive impact it could have on a lot of people. And thankfully it has already." Khalaf says he's received many comments from people who shared their own stories of bullying and say the video has given them hope that they too may one day heal and find closure.

Khalaf hopes the conversation can show other kids — LGBT or otherwise — who are currently experiencing bullying, that there's some light at the end of the tunnel.

"We all go through some degree of bullying growing up, and it's just about getting through it, knowing that it's not going to last forever, and that closure can be found," Khalaf said.

High school isn't forever. People grow up. And most importantly, people change.

"To hear exactly what you were hoping to hear is a beautiful thing," he said.

You can watch the full conversation below. It is well worth your time.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via YouTube

This article originally appeared on 02.15.22


These days, we could all use something to smile about, and few things do a better job at it than watching actor Christopher Walken dance.

A few years back, some genius at HuffPo Entertainment put together a clip featuring Walken dancing in 50 of his films, and it was taken down. But it re-emerged in 2014 and the world has been a better place for it.

Walken became famous as a serious actor after his breakout roles in "Annie Hall" (1977) and "The Deer Hunter" (1978) so people were pretty shocked in 1981 when he tap-danced in Steve Martin's "Pennies from Heaven."

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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