Photo by M.Sharkey
Last year, Omar Sharif Jr., the grandson of legendary Doctor Zhivago actor Omar Sharif, published a letter in The Advocate, in which he came out as gay and half-Jewish and questioned the new Egyptian government’s commitment to basic human rights and diversity, writing: “I anticipate that I will be chastised, scorned, and most certainly threatened,” he wrote. “From the vaunted class of Egyptian actor and personality, I might just become an Egyptian public enemy.” Out honored him in its annual Out100.
"I'm thrilled to be joining GLAAD in their culture-changing work" Sharif Jr. said in a GLAAD press release. "Having lived and worked in over half a dozen countries, I know the influence and impact that American media has globally - particularly in the broader Middle East, where it is widely syndicated and consumed. Working with GLAAD, I know that that I’ll be helping to effectuate change back home and around the world."
Sharif Jr. comes to GLAAD from a Canadian non-profit advocacy organization, where he served as the Director of Outreach and garnered several years' experience in the areas of fundraising, government affairs, legislation, non-profit development, and advocacy.
After publishing that letter last year, Sharif Jr. faced a barrage of condemnation, criticism and threats of violence. As he explains: "Most of this negativity was spurred on by the Arabic media’s demonization of my gay identity. Having lived through this experience and others, I feel that I am perfectly positioned to embody GLAAD’s mandate to donors as I can speak from the heart and cite personal experience in an effort to highlight the importance of promoting understanding and acceptance and advancing equality through the media. Last year, when I came out, I did not simply find my voice; I found my purpose. With that purpose came a sense of urgency and a responsibility to advocate on behalf of those still silenced by fear or repression."