Ian McKellen Has No Regrets About Coming Out — and You Won't Either

Ian McKellen

Thirty years after coming out as gay, Sir Ian McKellen has no regrets.

The Lord of the Rings star sent out a celebratory tweet Saturday in honor of this momentous anniversary.

"I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out – including myself. Life at last begins to make sense, when you are open and honest," the 78-year-old actor stated.

McKellen came out at age 49 in a 1988 interview with BBC Radio. He did so in order to speak out against Section 28 of the Local Government Act, which prohibited authorities and teachers from engaging in the "promotion of homosexuality." This anti-LGBT legislation would not be repealed in the United Kingdom until 2003. But McKellen's interview kicked off a lifetime of LGBT activism. 

McKellen spoke out about his coming-out in a 2014 interview with The Advocate, calling it "no surprise to anyone I had ever worked with." He asserted that, contrary to the fears of closeted actors, audiences "don’t give a damn about the sexuality of an actor."

"What they’re interested in is the performance," McKellen said. "If they have some fantasy about an actor, then that’s what it is — fantasy. You can have fantasies about somebody whether they’re gay or straight, bisexual, transgender, whatever. So it’s perfectly possible for a straight actor to successfully play a gay man and it’s equally possible for me to play all sorts of straight men like Hamlet, Macbeth, Coriolanus, and King Lear. After all, I wouldn’t want to cut myself off from that fascinating phenomenon of heterosexuality.”

“I’m sure the advice still goes to young actors, saying it would be better if you don’t come out," he added. "But I say it will be a great deal worse if you don’t come out because you’ll have a miserable, complicated life. Frankly, if you feel like you’re in a business where you have to remain in the closet, my advice would be to get out of that business."

McKellen's tweet received a wave of support from allies and members of the LGBT community, some of whom shared their own positive coming-out experiences.

Must-Watch New Series

From our Sponsors

READER COMMENTS ()