Omar Sharif Jr: I’m Gay, Jewish, and May Be Persecuted in My Home Country of Egypt


Omar Sharif Jr. the grandson of the actor with the same name, who made some headlines last year after appearing at the Oscars and battling Kirk Douglas for his cane, has come out as gay and Jewish.

Sharif had spoken out for gay rights following the Oscars, but he talks about his own sexuality, and faith, and the fear that his home country Egypt will persecute him, for the first time with The Advocate:

And so I hesitantly confess: I am Egyptian, I am half Jewish, and I am gay.

That my mother is Jewish is no small disclosure when you are from Egypt, no matter the year. And being openly gay has always meant asking for trouble, but perhaps especially during this time of political and social upheaval. 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?

…While to many in Europe and North America mine might seem like trivial admissions, I am afraid this is not so in Egypt. I anticipate that I will be chastised, scorned, and most certainly threatened. From the vaunted class of Egyptian actor and personality, I might just become an Egyptian public enemy.

And yet I speak out because I am a patriot.

I am a patriot who remembers a pluralistic Egypt, where despite a lack of choice in the political sphere, society comprised a multitude of beliefs and backgrounds. I remember growing up knowing gay men and women who were quietly accepted by those around them in everyday society.

The Jerusalem Post notes: "Sharif's Jewish heritage comes from his mother's side, making him fully Jewish according to the rabbinical tradition."