The grandson of acclaimed actor Omar Sharif left his native Egypt in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring. It was also at this time that Omar Sharif Junior came out as a homosexual. On July 10, his grandfather died in Cairo after suffering a heart attack at the age of 83. Sharif Junior is the son of his grandfather’s only child, Tarek. He was borne out of Omar Sharif’s relationship with Faten Hamama. She died in 2015 also.
Here’s what you need to know about his namesake:
1. He Rebuilt the Image of a New York Hotelier Who Held a Fundraiser for Ted Cruz
Since leaving Egypt, Sharif has worked as an actor and activist for GLAAD. In May 2015, Page Six reported that Sharif had been hired by hotelier Ian Reisner. Reisner’s hotel in Midtown Manhattan was coming under fire from the city’s gay community after he hosted a fundraiser for homophobic Republican presidential candidate, Ted Cruz.
2. He Was the Face of Coca Cola in the Arabic World
According to his IMDB page, during his time living in Egypt, Sharif had been chosen as the face of Coca-Cola in the region as well as doing Calvin Klein modeling. Sharif’s profile says that he has a Master’s in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts from Queens University.
3. He’s Half-Jewish
In a 2012 op-ed in The Advocate, Sharif wrote “I write this article in fear. Fear for my country, fear for my family, and fear for myself. My parents will be shocked to read it, surely preferring I stay in the shadows and keep silent, at least for the time being. But I can’t.” His mother is Jewish, which according to rabbinical tradition, makes Sharif Jewish. He wrote:
With the victories of several Islamist parties in recent elections, a conversation needs to be had and certain questions need to be raised. I ask myself: Am I welcome in the new Egypt? Will being Egyptian, half Jewish, and gay forever remain mutually exclusive identities? Are they identities to be hidden?
Sharif also said that he was hopeful at the beginning of the Arab Spring for a more progressive society, but that enthusiasm quickly died.
4. He Says His Family Never Rejected Him for Being Gay
In The Advocate’s 2014 “40 Under 40,” it’s written that none of Sharif’s family rejected him for being gay but that many of his countrymen did. He told the magazine that “For a while, I was trending on Yahoo! and Twitter and being called ‘pedophile’ and ‘deviant.’ Because that’s what ‘gay’ means to some people. But then I started getting messages of thanks and support from other LGBT people in the Arab world.”
5. He Gave Condolences to His Grandfather in a Very Simple Way
In a separate Facebook post, Sharif simply wrote “I love you” under a picture of him being embraced by his grandfather.