McKellen Talks Bullies with Students
November 30 2009 2:30 PM EST
November 17 2015 5:28 AM EST
After conducting an acting workshop for a play on homophobia, Sir Ian McKellen spoke to a group of British schoolchildren about his life as a gay man.
"When I was 29 it was illegal for me to make love, I had a boyfriend and we slept together, but the law said that we should be in prison," said McKellen, reports the U.K. Press Association. "It was very hard to walk out in the street and say to him, don't touch me or brush your hand against mine, there may be a policeman around the corner."
During a drama workshop, McKellen also discussed his experiences with homophobia while attending school.
"Being gay was a topic that was never mentioned when I was your age. We had not really invented the word gay -- at school I used to be called Oscar, after Oscar Wilde," the 70-year-old actor told the audience of 200 students. "So to come back to school for the first time in 50 years and see this is heartening, to see that as a nation we have so rapidly grown up."
Afterward, the students at Severn Vale School in Quedgeley, England, got the opportunity perform in front of the two-time Academy Award-nominated McKellen.