Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Ian McKellen talks sexuality

Sir Ian McKellen

Sir Ian McKellen has claimed he became an actor to "meet queers".

The well-known gay activist has opened up about his reasons for coming out of the closet at a late stage in his life.

The 73-year-old actor confessed it was a challenge to admit his sexuality to those closest to him, which is why he waited until he was 49 to do so.

"It's probably one of the reasons I became an actor. I'd heard you could meet queers," Ian revealed to Vanity Fair. "So it proved. I was never closeted with friends and colleagues in the professional theatre, but I wasn't out to my closest blood relatives."

The British star has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for AIDS hospices since he revealed his sexuality. Looking back, he regrets waiting so long to be honest with the world about his sexual orientation.

"Yes [I regret it]. Because the minute I came out, I felt immediately better in every way. I felt relieved that I wasn't lying. You know, when I was growing up in 1950s England, there were no gay clubs I knew about. There were no bars. Homosexuals were shamed publicly and imprisoned," Ian continued. "You were on your own, looking over your shoulder all the time, hoping in the handshake of a stranger that he might be somebody gay."

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