Omar Sharif Jr new book A Tale of Two Omars

The grandson of the legendary actor Omar Sharif chronicles his 38 years in the recently released autobiography A Tale of Two Omars: A Memoir of Family, Revolution, and Coming Out During the Arab Spring

Heartfelt and heroic. His memoir traces being bullied as a child and teen, attempted suicide, the horrors of sex trafficking, and receiving tens of thousands of death threats after coming out in the Arab world. It’s also a story of survival—instilled in him by his mother’s family, who survived the Holocaust death camps—but with his compassion and empathy intact.

But  there are  also wonderful details of his escapades as the only grandson of his glamorous, globe-trotting grandfather—the legendary star of Lawrence of ArabiaDr. Zhivago, and Funny Girl among a host of others. With his huge liquid eyes and shock of thick dark hair, Sharif Sr. was an unparalleled ladies’ man and mans’ man!

Always ahead of the curve,  I started  following Omar Sharif Jr  around  2010.  I can’t remember exactly how our paths crossed, but I knew he had this  X factor….I  felt he was someone to watch.  We had exchanged  some messages  on Twitter  or  Facebook,  I think….. The LGBTQ community at large came to know Sharif Jr.  for coming out in a personal essay for LGBTQ outlet “The Advocate” in 2012, about a year after the Arab Spring began. Writing the letter “took time, thought and reflection,” he writes. “Nearly three months went by before I published it, and still I really struggled.”

 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.

The letter was met with ridicule internationally – especially in Egypt and from his own father, who told him he basically gave up everything by coming out and disclosing he was Jewish. Despite the vitriol, he received an outpouring of support from LGBTQ people who finally felt seen.

          Reviews for the book  have been great! 

“A powerful and essential memoir of self-discovery . . . Brimming with beautiful remembrances of his grandfather and terrifying stories of abuse and homophobia, this is an essential book that shines a much-needed light on the intersection of Arab and queer identity.” —Abdi Nazemian, Lambda Literary Award–winning author of Like a Love Story, a Stonewall Honor Book

“This book is the fascinating and inspiring odyssey of one man’s quest to be his authentic self––a difficult enough task for anyone, but try adding gay, Muslim and Jewish into the mix!” ––Alan Cumming

“A gripping personal saga and an urgent plea for the place he still very much calls home to embrace equal rights for everyone.” —Michelle Hart, Oprah Daily

“[Sharif Jr.] writes in a manner that is like a good friend telling you a story—his narration sucks you in and makes you not want to put it down . . . A compelling story.” —Emily Burack, Alma

“Not your normal coming-of-age tale, A Tale of Two Omars by Omar Sharif, Jr. is the story of the author’s youth during the Arab Spring in 2010 . . . It’s a thrilling book, salted with memoir and you’ll love it.” —Terri Schlichenmeyer, Los Angeles Blade

 

If you want a sneak peak, there is a wonderful excerpt from the book  at  Tabletmag.com. It shows a familiar story, for  many us, growing up with a secret  and  hiding, as well as  the heavy burden that comes with it.

“It’s amazing how one lie turns into two lies, and then into three, becoming a habit or even a lifestyle….I looked out into the darkness, wondering how many others were hiding secrets so that they could feel accepted by those around them.”

Sharif has recently finished shooting the third season of Amazon’s Israeli series The Baker and the Beauty, where he plays a gay Lebanese man married to an Israeli. And sadly, the backlash in the Middle East against him for working in Tel Aviv and accepting the role was ferocious.

Sharif emphasizes that he believes the answer to this entrenched hatred and intolerance is to increase one’s own tolerance of the haters and to adopt a posture of forgiveness. “I can finally do what my grandparents did and use art to change people’s hearts and minds,” he says.

“I thought my job was to straddle the walls between my Arab, Jewish, and gay worlds but now I know it is my job to dismantle them. And nothing tears through walls better than art.”

WANT TO HEAR MORE FROM OMAR? 

In an exclusive audio interview Emmy Winner Charlotte Robinson host of OUTTAKE VOICES™ talks with Omar Sharif Jr. about his new memoir “A Tale of Two Omars: A Memoir of Family, Revolution and Coming Out During the Arab Spring” published by Counterpoint Press.

 

 

 

 

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