Sir Ian McKellen returned to the stage recently for the Letters Live performance series held at London’s prestigious Freemason’ Hall, and the out veteran actor read an emotional fictional coming-out letter from gay man wrote to his parents.
“I’m sorry, Mama. Not for what I am, but for how you must feel at this moment. I know what that feeling is, for I felt it for most of my life. Revulsion, shame, disbelief — rejection through fear of something I knew, even as a child, was as basic to my nature as the color of my eyes,” McKellen read aloud from a message written by a character in Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City novels, Michael Tolliver, after he first learned that his parents were supporting the notoriously antigay efforts of entertainer turned political activist Anita Bryant.
“Being gay has taught me tolerance, compassion and humility. It has shown me the limitless possibilities of living. It has given me people whose passion and kindness and sensitivity have provided a constant source of strength,” McKellen continued reading from Tolliver’s letter.
Watch the emotional performance from McKellen in the video below.