In an interview with Vulture,
British actor Ian McKellen was asked whether any actors had thanked
him for coming out gay.
McKellen, who came out in 1988, is best
known for roles in the Lord of the Rings and X-Men
franchises. In his latest film, Mr. Holmes, McKellen plays a
retired Sherlock Holmes.
“Have any actors who've since come
out thanked you for it?” Vulture asked.
“Well, younger actors, yes,”
answered. “I think actors of my generation just think, 'Oh,
McKellen is bellyaching on again about gay rights. Shut up!' What
they don't realize is that there are people who need to hear that
McKellen went on to credit coming out
for making him a better person and actor.
“I don't know about you, but it
seemed to me that coming out makes one receptive to other people's
problems. You are aware that your own problems with being gay,
visited on you by society, make you sympathetic to people who you'll
never meet in other countries where even worse conditions prevail. I
mean, I've just had to turn down a lifetime achievement award at the
Dubai Film Festival because it is the law of the land that you must
not be gay. And a visiting gay person who makes a fuss – and by
'fuss' I mean, be themselves – will be thrown in jail or deported.
That's not the happy environment in which you want to receive a
present,” McKellen said.
Later in the interview, he added: “When
there was nobody in the world I minded knowing I was gay, everything
made sense. Relationships made sense, family made sense and acting
became not about disguise, but about revelation.”