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Out NYC Owner Hires Omar Sharif Jr. as Community Liaison

Out NYC Owner Hires Omar Sharif Jr. as Community Liaison

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Sharif will apparently do some damage control for Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, who've been denounced for holding an event for antigay pol Ted Cruz.

New York hotelier and real estate developer Ian Reisner, a gay man who's been under fire for hosting an event for antigay politician Ted Cruz, has hired gay activist Omar Sharif Jr. for a community relations position.

Sharif will serve as a community liaison on Fire Island, where Reisner owns shares of bars and other properties that have lost business in due to outrage over the Cruz event, The New York Times reports. The grandson of the famed actor of the same name, Sharif was a spokesman for GLAAD until recently, and has also worked as an actor and director.

Reisner and his business partner, Mati Weiderpass, are "the Fawlty Towers of gay hoteliers," Sharif told the Times. "They have good intentions, they're lovable, and if they're given an opportunity to misspeak or drop something they pick up, they're going to do it. But I don't think anything is malicious in their intent."

Reisner and Weiderpass, who are both managing partners of Parkview Developers and were once a couple, hosted a reception for Cruz in April at a penthouse they own in Manhattan. Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, is well-known for his antigay views.

The businessmen have said the Cruz event was not a fundraiser and that their interest in hosting the politician stemmed from his views on foreign policy concerning Israel. Shortly after the reception, several LGBT organizations canceled events at the Out NYC Hotel, a gay-focused venue owned by Parkview Developers, and many gay people vowed to boycott the Out NYC and the Fire Island properties.

Reisner and Weiderpass have sought to do damage control by pointing out their support for LGBT causes, but some of their interviews may have done them more harm, such as one in which they characterized gay people as tightwads with a sense of entitlement.

Some of Sharif's friends urged him not to go to work for Reisner, reports the New York Post's Page Six gossip column. He told the paper, however, that he believes Reisner "is very sincere and genuine" in his regret about the Cruz event.

"Ian is committed to getting it right," Sharif told the Post. "He wants to be a force for good to help the LGBT community. He's looking for some redemption."

Sharif was born in Canada but spent much of his life in Egypt, his grandfather's native country. He left Egypt for the United States early in 2011 and came out in an Advocate article in 2012. Last year he was named one of The Advocate's 40 Under 40.

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