THE GRANDSON and namesake of actor Omar Sharif—who had starring roles in Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and Funny Girl—Omar Sharif Jr. decided to come out publicly as gay, in The Advocate (March 16, 2012), following the Arab Spring. Having deep roots in Egypt, he expected some amount of blowback but was surprised by the vitriol of the haters who pounced on him online and in print. He had meant to beg his fellow countrymen for some measure of tolerance and grace, but that is not what he received.
As happens in so many memoirs by gay men, Sharif was bullied as a child. His parents were divorced and he was shuttled from home to home when he was young, from Canada to the Middle East, wherever his family members lived. Still, he came of age in what most would consider a comfortable life. His mother’s parents, Jewish Holocaust survivors, delighted in Sharif’s presence and helped raise him starting when he was four. They saw him as a living testament against the Nazis. He was their future, and when he was with them, he never wanted for attention or love.
Terri Schlichenmeyer is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.