Ian McKellen Explains How Coming Out As Gay Made His Life Change ‘For The Better’


Ian McKellen is rejoicing over his decision to come out as gay 35 years ago, declaring that his life “changed for the better” as a result.

“The Lord of the Rings” actor, in an interview with Variety, reflected on one of “two pivotal moments” in his life. McKellen came out as gay during a 1988 radio broadcast in an act of protest against laws proposed in the U.K. that barred the “promotion of homosexuality” by local officials.

“Almost overnight everything in my life changed for the better — my relationships with people and my whole attitude toward acting changed,” McKellen said.

FILE – Sir Ian McKellen attends the Park Theatre 10th Anniversary party on May 7, 2023 in London, England.

Photo by Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty Images

McKellen, the star of the upcoming thriller “The Critic,” has previously opened up about his decision to come out – telling his social media followers in 2018 that “life at last begins to make sense” when they make the choice.

He told Variety that the decision improved his ability to act, as well.

“The kind of acting that I had been good at was all about disguise — adopting funny voices and odd walks. It was about lying to the world,” McKellen said.

“I was no longer in the situation where I was running along beside the character explaining it to the audience. I just became the character.”

McKellen added that he started to see himself become more open with his onstage acting and expressed doubts whether he would have transitioned to acting in films if he hadn’t come out.

“People who are not gay just simply don’t know how it damages you to be lying about what you are and ashamed of yourself,” McKellen said.

“I was brought up at a time when it was illegal for me to have sex with a man. And that was not that long ago.”


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