Ian McKellen says his work got better after he came out as gay

‘I wasn’t hiding anymore,’ said star

Ellie Harrison
Friday 07 May 2021 09:42
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Sir Ian McKellen has said his work improved after he came out as gay in the Eighties.

The actor, 81, talked about coming out during an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show. McKellen revealed his sexuality to the public on BBC radio in 1988.

Discussing the aftermath, the actor said: “I [have] never stopped talking about it since. Made up for lost time. It changes your life utterly. I discovered myself. And everything was better. My relationships with my family, with friends, with strangers, and my work got better as I wasn’t hiding anymore.”

He added: “Up to that point, my acting had really been about disguise and then, when I could feel I was myself, it came about telling the truth, which was much more interesting.”

McKellen said his “dilemma” about coming out when he was younger was that if he was openly gay he “could have risked being prosecuted”.

In 1967, the Sexual Offences Act was passed which decriminalised private homosexual acts between men aged over 21, however full reform did not happen until over three decades later.

The criminalisation of anal sex was finally repealed in England and Wales by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

McKellen also told the programme why he has not written an autobiography.

“I put aside six or nine months to write it – it was for an awful lot of money which was basically the attraction.”

However it was the “list of chat shows” across the world that he would be expected to appear on, “that would take a year” of his life, that put him off.

“I said I don’t have enough time,” he admitted. “So I gave them the money back.”

McKellen added: “I wanted to start with my parents, why did they decide to have me, just before the Second World War, they must have discussed this and thought about this. It’s too late to ask them and I can’t quite imagine.

“I got rather teary thinking about them as young people and wishing I’d known more about them. That was another reason why I rather went off the idea.”

The Jonathan Ross Show airs on Saturday 8 May on ITV.

Additional reporting by PA

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