Ron Matthew Inawat is president of the GoPride Network and contributes to ChicagoPride.com, PrideLA.com and other sites within the GoPride Network.
Produced by Ryan Seacrest, Bravo TV's "Shahs of Sunset" follows a group of Iranian American friends living in Beverly Hills who are trying to juggle their active social lives and careers while balancing the demands of their families and cultural traditions. The season finale of the reality show airs this weekend on Bravo.
Born in Tehran, Iran, and raised in Beverly Hills, cast member Reza Farahan is a 38-year-old prominent player in the Los Angeles real estate world. As one of few openly gay Persians in the community, Reza Farahan often struggles with gossip and prejudice regarding his sexuality.
Appearing on "The View" Friday, Shah's cast members reflected on the first season of the show. Farahan added that by sharing his story as an openly gay Persian-American. he hoped it would help others accept their sexuality.
GoPride caught up with Farahan to discuss the show, growing up as a gay Persian, gay pride parades, and his strong passion for raising awareness in the LGBT community.
MI: (Ron Matthew Inawat) The cast, your friends, are so diverse in personality...
RF: (Reza Farahan) They are!
MI: You seem to be the glue that holds them together...
RF: I think I'm more of a rubber cement than a glue, but ok, no problem.
MI: How do you feel playing the central role in your relationships?
RF: I'm fine, you know, each one of them is deliciously amazing in their own unique way that if I'm considered to be glue-like, I'm honored to be. I love each and every one of them, so it's my pleasure.
MI: Now, did your parents have a problem with you being on the show or were they pretty supportive?
RF: Honestly, my mom was a little hesitant initially when I told her about it, but when I expressed to her what I wanted to use the show as a platform to bring awareness to homophobia in our community, she was supportive.
Mind you we are very private as a family, as a culture, we're definitely much more private than some other groups might be, but as soon as she realized it was really important for me to get this message across, she got on the bandwagon real quick.
MI: When did you come out? And what was your mom and dad's initial reaction?
RF: It was when I was 21, and so it was a momentary - and when I say momentary, I'm talking a couple of minutes - of shock, disbelief and wanting to solve the problem. And literally, as if I had timed it on a stopwatch, they collected themselves, my mom looked me dead in the eye and told me that she loved me and that nothing would ever change and that she would be here for me until the day she died.
MI: Being successful on multiple fronts, do you see yourself as a role model for Persian gay men, or gay men in general?
RF: I don't see myself as a role model, but if I'm able to bring some awareness by living my life a certain way, I'm more than happy to do it.
MI: You said you lived your life private, but do you see yourself leading a pride parade anytime soon?
RF: (Laughs) That's so funny that you ask that because literally when I told my mom I wanted to be on the show, this was what was going on in her mind...
She thought I would be in underwear on a gay pride float going down Santa Monica Boulevard with a feather boa going "whooo!" So when you say that it's really funny because that's what she thought I'd be doing.
I wouldn't want to be doing a gay pride anything unless there was an element of altruism. If I was able to help in a certain way I would do it. I wouldn't do it for notoriety or to be the center of attention but if I could do something that would assist in a certain way, absolutely, I would be honored to facilitate that.
MI: Yesterday, we learned that your mustache seems to have its own Twitter page...
RF: (Laughs) It does...
MI: Would you ever think of surprising your fans by shaving it off?
RF: You know, he and I have gotten really close lately, and he's confided in me and we've just bonded on a whole other level. So, I don't see myself getting rid of him in the near future.
But who knows? Tune in for season seven and he might not be around. But for now I think he and I are real tight.
MI: Season 7 - we can't wait for that! Well, in last week's New York episode we found out that Reza goes for the twinks and I was going to tell you that the Midwest is full of them...
RF: No, Reza does not go for the twinks! Reza is built like a brick sh*thouse and Reza is attracted to his opposite. So if you're tall, lean and white, Reza's attracted to you.
It doesn't mean that I'm attracted to twinks, and it doesn't mean that that's what I am attracted to exclusively, but usually if there's a lean, tall white guy in the room, I'm gravitating in that direction.
MI: Well I have single, tall lean friends here in Chicago that would love to date you, so are you planning on visiting Chicago anytime soon?
RF: Hook a brother up and we'll see!
MI: Definitely! So, since the show started, how has your life changed?
RF: It hasn't really changed other than I've gotten messages that are unbelievable from people telling me that I've touched them in a certain way. And that truly has been...
Other than doing "The View" and going on "Watch What Happens Live", me and my amazing friends on the show, that's what we do, that's our life. You guys now just have a window into it, but that's what we've been doing and what we will continue to do. And, you know, hopefully the show will be around for a long, long time, but you guys are just getting a window into what goes on for us on a regular basis.
MI: ... and you definitely have been inspiring.
RF: Thank you.
MI: Are there any specific causes or charities, LGBT or otherwise, that you currently champion and want to share with the readers?
Absolutely! I've been a huge, huge supporter of Project Angel Food who, up until very recently, would deliver hot meals to people who were homebound because of HIV/AIDS complications. But because of funding and restructuring they no longer have the hot meal program, so what I used to do every Friday for the last six years has ceased to exist.
But I'm definitely involved in a lot of smaller things and I want to find some things I can be involved in that are on a grassroots level like that.
But, what I do want to say is my involvement with them is very selfish. They give me way, way more than I could ever give them.
MI: Well, I only have two other questions for you... the fun stuff..
RF: Cool. Because Gigi is just getting here and she is waiting for to go out with me to eat so, as much as I like talking to you...
MI: Lets make this quick, then! Boxers or briefs?
RF: Cool, briefs for sure! For me...
MI: Briefs, ok.
RF: Well wait! Are you asking for me, or what I'm attracted to?
MI: No, the question is from a reader - they really want to know what you wear.
RF: I cannot wear briefs. There's so much going on down there and I need the support. It would be like seeing things like you don't need to see. (laughs)
MI: (Laughs) Okay, we won't go there! We won't go too far into that...
Last thing, really enjoyed talking to you and I want to get you out to dinner! Tell us something you've never ever shared in an interview before.
RF: I've never shared in an interview before? I love a natural scent as opposed to a cologne-infused body.
MI: Well I will tell my friends that...
RF: ... there you go...
MI: ... when you come and visit Chicago.
MI: Well thank you so much for taking the time for the interview with ChicagoPride.com!
RF: Thank you, Ron! Thank you so much.
MI: Thanks, Reza. Have a good night and say hi to GG for me!
RF: I will. GG says hi too!
Catch Reza on the "Shahs of Sunset" as the season one finale airs this Sunday evening at 9:00pm (CST) on Bravo TV.