Ra'ed Saade is breaking down barriers for LGBTQ+ Arabs all around the globe.
Saade became the first openly gay Arab on Netflix through his role on the second season of hit reality series, My Unorthodox Life. While Saade shares that he was surprised by how much he enjoyed being part of the cast, the milestone didn't come as a shock.
"Once I realized that I'm the first openly gay Arab, I wanted to, again, open the doors and start that conversation, and let people understand that we need to advocate for gay rights not only in America, but in the Middle East and the entire world," he tells Sonia Baghdady of Advocate Now.
Ra'ed Saade | Advocate Now
Growing up in Lebanon, Saade shared that he did not receive support from the culture around him, but he was lucky to have his family behind him throughout his journey.
"I live in my truth, and I just live authentically and happy with confidence because I was privileged, honestly, in the sense where my family really loves me, supports me no matter what," Saade explains. "But my upbringing was definitely difficult. ... You have to act and hide and just make sure that you're just trying to [pass] for straight."
Saade's parents still live in Lebanon, where he says residents face more than conservative cultural tendencies, as corruption within the government has kept public utilities from receiving proper funding.
"The banking system has a lot of corruption. I mean, if you imagine you look into your bank account and then 50 percent of all the money that you've saved and worked hard for is gone by the government," he says, adding, "And then the layers of no electricity, no hot water, the telephones, you can't really call. So there's ... a lot of basics that are missing."
Now that he lives in the United States and has a platform to call attention to the challenges facing his home country, Saade has made it his mission to advocate for queer Arabs and provide them a space to feel welcomed.
For more interviews like these, watch Advocate Now on The Advocate Channel.
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