GLAAD today announced that actor and LGBT advocate Omar Sharif Jr. will join GLAAD's staff as National Spokesperson and Strategic Giving Officer. Complementing the work of National Spokesperson Wilson Cruz, Omar will be an essential part of GLAAD's Development team, helping to build relationships with donors and raise vital funds to support GLAAD's work to lead the conversation for LGBT equality.
"I’m thrilled to be joining GLAAD in their culture-changing work" said Omar. "Having lived and worked in over half a dozen countries, I know the influence and impact that American media has globally - particularly in the broader Middle East, where it is widely syndicated and consumed. Working with GLAAD, I know that that I’ll be helping to effectuate change back home and around the world."
"Omar's story is one of tremendous courage and one that also reflects the journey travelled by countless Americans who've come to support equality after a friend, family member or colleague comes out as LGBT," said GLAAD's Dave Montez. "As an outspoken advocate for equality, Omar brings not only extraordinary skill and expertise to GLAAD, but also an incredible passion for building a better tomorrow for LGBT people everywhere."
Last year, Omar published a letter in The Advocate, in which he came out as gay and half-Jewish and questioned the new Egyptian government’s commitment to basic human rights and diversity. He then faced a barrage of condemnation, criticism and threats of violence. In his words, "Most of this negativity was spurred on by the Arabic media’s demonization of my gay identity. Having lived through this experience and others, I feel that I am perfectly positioned to embody GLAAD’s mandate to donors as I can speak from the heart and cite personal experience in an effort to highlight the importance of promoting understanding and acceptance and advancing equality through the media. Last year, when I came out, I did not simply find my voice; I found my purpose. With that purpose came a sense of urgency and a responsibility to advocate on behalf of those still silenced by fear or repression."
Sharif Jr. holds an advanced Master’s degree with merit from The London School of Economics. His first day at GLAAD will be May 1, 2013.