Belfast Telegraph

Sir Ian McKellen: Coming out was the best thing I ever did

Sir Ian Mckellen has spoken about revealing his sexuality on BBC radio in 1988.

Sir Ian McKellen has revealed coming out as gay was the “best thing I ever did in my life.”

The veteran actor and activist, 78, was speaking to Attitude magazine and recalled revealing his sexuality on BBC radio in 1988.

Before coming out, Sir Ian told the American writer Armistead Maupin of his plans and told the magazine he had no regrets about announcing his sexuality on the radio.

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Sir Ian McKellen reveals coming out as gay was the "best thing" he has ever done (Attitude/PA)

He said: “For the first time in his life Armistead didn’t know what to say. He was much more politically aware than I was at the time. He knew that some people in the public eye had to come out to encourage everybody else.

“I think that Armistead probably knew the most important reason for me to come out was for myself. And so it proved. It was the best thing I ever did in my life.”

Sir Ian received a knighthood in 1991, for services to the performing arts.

And he revealed he is glad he waited until he had gone public with his sexuality before accepting the honour.

He said: “I will always be glad that I didn’t accept the knighthood until I’d come out of the closet. If you’re lying about that central part of your nature, can you be trusted? I think that’s why when people come out the reception is usually positive.

“People like honesty. They think if gay people don’t talk about being gay that they have something to be ashamed of and it’s a secret. Why should it matter? Once you say I’m gay, then you know where you are with a person.”

In January, Sir Ian marked the 30th anniversary since he came out with an emotional tweet.

He wrote: “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.

“Today is the 30th anniversary of the BBC radio discussion when I publically said I was gay. So I’m celebrating!”

The latest issue of Attitude is available from Thursday April 26.

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