TOWIE star Junaid Ahmed says parents kicked him out for being gay: ‘It made me a stronger person’

Junaid Ahmed

The Only Way Is Essex newcomer Junaid Ahmed has claimed he hasn’t returned home since his parents disowned him at 18 after he came out as gay. 

The glamorous reality star, 26, who joined the TOWIE cast this summer, shared some upsetting truths in an interview on the Secure The Insecure podcast, opening up about his difficult teenage years and the “hurt” he carries daily. 

Secure The Insecure is a podcast “where it is OK to not be OK”, and every week presenter Johnny Seifert meets different celebrities to look at how their mental health and self-belief has affected their journey.

Chatting to the talkRadio showbiz editor on episode 157 of the show, Ahmed, who is also known for his appearance in Amazon Prime Video’s Lovestruck High, opened up about coming out in a Muslim household in Peterborough. 

He told Seifert that at 26 he is the happiest he has ever been in his whole life, but added: “Before all of this there’s been quite a difficult story leading to where I am today.

Ahmed revealed he had a “normal upbringing” until age 15 when he was scouted to go into modelling and “confused” about his sexuality and what he wanted to do in life. 

But he said he knew he loved performing and “being the centre of attention”.

“I was too scared to say it, as in an Asian household you don’t get someone who openly wants to be on TV or wants to do performing.” 

The “selfie-king”, as he is known on Lovestruck High, revealed to Seifert he felt the life he wanted to lead was “taboo” in the Asian community and that it felt “wrong” to be gay in his culture. 

Junaid Ahmed said at 16 he dated his “first love”, who was his best friend and was also “in the closet” like him. 

The pair had plans to move to London but felt the idea of coming out would “naturally entail in losing” their families due to their culture and Muslim religion.

Junaid Ahmed and Theo McDermott

Junaid Ahmed (L) attends the special screening of Twentieth Century Studios’ The Bob’s Burgers Movie at Rich Mix Cinema in London, alongside TikTok star Theo McDermott. (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Disney)

He told Seifert: “I am Muslim and I absolutely do love my religion. I’ve been brought up a Muslim and that will absolutely stay with me for my life, but Islam always teaches about peace and love and treating people how you want to be treated, but homosexuality is not accepted in Islam and that is in black and white.” 

Ahmed said his family could tell “something wasn’t right” as he was experimenting with makeup, and so he came out to them in a conversation when he was 18. 

In an emotional turn, the former model said: “It was something that they couldn’t accept due to the community and the culture and I was then kicked out and I moved. Six bin bags later and I was in Essex.”

He said the experience of coming out and being thrown out his home was the hardest thing he’s had to go through. 

“I came out at 18 and it was just one of the hardships I had to go through to make me the stronger person that I am today.

“The sad thing is the community has such a thing to say on it, people have such a thing to say on it, it’s not my choice, it’s not my choice to be gay,” he told Seifert.  

Since coming out, Junaid Ahmed said he has never returned home, joking he is “talk of the town”. 

He revealed that for the first 18 years of his life he didn’t have any happiness, but believes his parents still love him even though they “can’t accept” what he does for a living or who he is. 

“So the love’s not there. When you just want that hug from your mum. I want that everyday but I can’t have it,” Ahmed said, before explaining how he would love nothing more than to go home, sit with his mum, and have a conversation to share that his “dreams have come true”. 

Junaid Ahmed admitted it “hurts” not to have the support of his family, describing himself as a “one-man-band”, which can be “lonely”.

The 30-minute long podcast closes on Ahmed saying he doesn’t need a boyfriend to be happy, and Seifert joking that he should next go on Channel 4’s Celeb’s Go Dating. 

Ahmed opening up comes after Brazil’s top football referee, Igor Benevenuto, became the first FIFA-ranked referee to come out as gay.