Out British actor Ian McKellen helped launch a new initiative to help LGBT seniors.

The 80-year-old McKellen, who first spoke publicly about his sexuality during an interview with the BBC in 1988, is best known for playing Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and Magneto in the X-Men films.

The LGBT Foundation's Pride in Ageing program will “work to end the inequalities faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people over 50 in Greater Manchester and ensure that they have access to inclusive housing and care later in life. The program will also tackle the social isolation faced by LGBT people over 50 in the UK, which we know is commonplace and has a significant impact on their health, happiness, and wellbeing.”

Speaking at an event to launch the program, McKellen said that prejudice is “something you learn.”

“Growing up, even in Lancashire, what is now Greater Manchester, 70 years ago, it was a total silence. There was no mention of sexuality other than heterosexuality at school, on the radio, in church. Absolute silence. So is it any wonder that people who are older, when things are hazy, they may think back to a time when things were different?” McKellen said.

“Waving the banner for full and total equality, and love, is something that has my total support,” he added.

LGBT Foundation Chief Executive Paul Martin added: “We’re incredibly grateful to Sir Ian for launching this incredibly important new initiative. We know that LGBT people over 50 are at a much higher risk of isolation and are under-recognized in health and social care services, and may be facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. We believe that all LGBT people over 50 have the right to an excellent quality of life in later years, and look forward to working to end the many inequalities that LGBT in mid-to-later life face”