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Shahs of Sunset Star Talks Coming Out As a Persian Gay Man – Exclusive

Watch out, Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. There's a new set of reality stars taking over Rodeo Drive. Like the Housewives, the cast of Bravo's Shahs of Sunset is rich and pretty, and they enjoy the finer things in life. But they also have an added layer of depth in that they all share Persian backgrounds. Their families, as we quickly see, don't necessarily appreciate their westernized ways of living.

But despite pressure to ostracize and condemn him for living as an openly gay man, real estate mogul Reza Farahan's family stands by him. On the eve of the show's March 11 premiere, Reza opened up to Wetpaint Entertainment about his decision to come out, why he's doing a reality show, and what his life would be like had his family stayed in Iran, where he was born.

Wetpaint Entertainment: How hard was it to come out as a Persian gay man?

Reza: It's very hard to come out period, but being Persian makes it 10 times harder. Persians, in general, are very "old school" and don't deal well with change or things that deviate from their "norms." And being gay deviates as far away from their norms as possible.

Wetpaint Entertainment: Back in Iran, what's the attitude towards homosexuality?

You have the president of the country saying that homosexuality doesn't exist! You see people getting hanged or stoned to death for homosexual acts. I can't bear to see the pictures or hear the stories of teenagers dying in Iran. I can't imagine what it would feel like to be gay living in Iran, I think I'd be dead, either from suicide or by stoning/hanging by the government.

Do you still face obstacles living in Beverly Hills?

Being gay and Persian in L.A. is still difficult, but I have the love of my immediate family, my huge circle of friends, and the gay community. I feel very blessed to live here and have that support.

Did I mention how blessed I am? I'm so grateful, and that's exactly why I agreed to be on a reality show. If I have people thinking twice about how they look, speak, or deal with homosexuality/homosexuals, all the heat that I'll take for doing it will be well worth it.

Shahs of Sunset premieres this Sunday, March 11 at 10 pm on Bravo.

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03.9.2012 / 03:04 AM EDT by Beth Sobol
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