As the first high-profile personality to come out as gay from the Arab world, Omar Sharif Jr knows a thing or two about paving the way. The grandson of legendary actors Omar Sharif and Faten Hamama, he was once known as 'Egypt's favourite son', but, fearing persecution, he left his native Egypt for America.
It would have been easy to retreat into the safe, relative obscurity his new home offered, but instead he recognised his platform and used it. He’s spent time as the national spokesperson for the gay rights group GLAAD, he’s championed Iraqi refugees at the UN and, last year, he made more history by becoming the ﬁrst openly gay man to discuss his sexuality on an Arabic news programme - a more than worthy recipient of the Attitude's Inspiration Award
One of Omar Sharif Jr's key passions is bringing Muslim and LGBT communities together - particularly in the wake of the Orlando tragedy.
“It’s a shame the way the media covers these issues,” says Sharif. “I started to see parallels [between] homophobia in the late Eighties and Nineties and Islamophobia today: that false correlation between LGBT+ people and HIV/Aids, and Islam and terrorism. It’s a false correlation, but one which is so easy to make.
“At the end of the day, we’re natural allies because we have that same experience. There are so many LGBT+ people of faith and there are so many pro-LGBT+ people in the faith communities. So there isn’t that false duality, that dichotomy.”
Omar Sharif Jr was presented with his award by David Furnish
at tonight's star-studded Attitude Awards ceremony at London's 8 Northumberland Avenue, hosted by Alan Cumming.
Read more about Omar Sharif Jr and the rest of winners from the Attitude Awards 2016, presented in association with Virgin Holidays, in our special November issue, which comes with six different covers featuring some of the night's biggest winners.
It's available to download from 11pm tonight (October 10) at pocketmags.com/attitude and available in shops from Wednesday (October 12). You can order the cover of your choice from 10am on Tuesday (October 11) at newsstand.co.uk.
Omar wears clothing by John Varvatos, shoes by Christian Louboutin
Photographs: Victoria Will
Styling: Joseph Kocharian