For many people coming out is a big deal as they are nervous to discuss their sexuality with their friends and family.
20-year-old Tomas Haile from Orléans, France was not only ‘afraid’ to announce to the world he is a gay black man, he was struggling to address it himself.
However, two years ago help and support arrived from none other than pop superstar and all round awesome human Rihanna.
Tomas, who has for the first time revealed his identity exclusively to UNILAD, had been chatting to Rihanna from an anonymous Twitter account about the struggles he was going through, not initially mentioning his sexuality.
He explained to UNILAD how he started talking to his idol:
Rihanna literally followed me on Instagram and then went right after on Twitter. She was commenting on and liking my pictures on Instagram but then we started messaging.
I had some family issues at that time. Unfortunately, she lived through the same thing as I did and this is where our interaction started!
It really started meaning something to me when she was starting to slowly ask how I was doing from time to time, getting some news etc… Her advice was the best like I can’t even explain you how caring she was!!!
I mean, when I first talked to her I never was expecting her to actually care about me. What surprised me is that she actually took the time to know me better and literally make me a better person. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her.
Being ‘the big sister [he] never had’, Rihanna helped Tomas work on his relationship with his father as well as give advice on other family matters.
While Tomas was discussing his issues, Rihanna messaged him asking whether he was gay to which Tomas, for the first time, replied to with a ‘yes’.
She then didn’t advise him to come out, she ‘told’ Tomas to do it.
Comforting him by saying ‘it’s okay to be scared but it’s more important to be who you are’, Rihanna emphasised to Tomas while his family ‘may not understand’ there is a community out there who will.
Encouraged by Rihanna’s wise words, Tomas came out to his best friend before revealing the secret to his family.
Admitting it was difficult, especially since his mum wasn’t okay about the news meaning he had to live with his grandparents for a year, Tomas is grateful he took Rihanna’s advice.
I was such in a bad place, it was really a dark place to be in. She saved me. What I was the most nervous about is how people from my city would have reacted to it, but especially my family.
Thank God Rihanna pushed me and made me understand that whether my family does understand it or not, I can’t hide from who I really am.
When I came out to my best friend it was such a tough moment. She was really supportive, and so was most of my family! Unfortunately some of my family members weren’t really okay with it at first but then just got over it.
Now I can’t put in words how grateful I am. Today, I have friends who love for the person I really am. They support me through everything. And knowing that my family supports me too is just so amazing!
After coming out to his family and friends, Tomas announced the news on his social media accounts letting the whole world know.
While he did receive some hate, Tomas ignored it feeling strong enough to shake it off.
He can’t thank Rihanna enough for inspiring him to take the big step:
This is all thanks to her, I can’t thank anyone else. She opened the doors for me.
Today, I feel strong enough to be a voice for what I believe in. I believe in equality and love. No one can stop me from experiencing any one of those things.
Thanks to Rihanna I feel confident enough to wear whatever I want, say whatever that’s on my mind.
Thanks to her I made it, I feel strong, and my personality made me meet people who I love more than they could ever imagine. I love this woman and will forever do.
Do we need any more proof Rihanna is awesome? Nah, I didn’t think so.
Having last heard from Rihanna last year, Tomas knows if he needs to reach out for help and advice she is very likely to reply.
The two have previously discussed meeting on one of her tours and although it hasn’t happened yet, Tomas is hopeful one day he will meet the woman who inspired him.
We hope you do too Tomas.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.