Since coming out as gay 30 years ago, the celebrated actor Sir Ian McKellan has never hesitated to promote the gay agenda and to help gay causes. There's a short article in today's Guardian newspaper about a recent interview he gave to Time Out. It centres on Hollywood's failure to portray minorities on screen.
"Nobody looks to Hollywood for social commentary, do they? They only recently discovered that there were black people in the world. Hollywood has mistreated women in every possible way throughout its history. Gay men don’t exist.
McKellen credited 1998’s Gods and Monsters – in which he played director James Whale – as triggering a new climate of acceptance in the industry, saying it “was the beginning of Hollywood admitting that there were gay people knocking around, even though half of Hollywood is gay”
Which surely leads to a degree of speculation. Which actors and other personalities might be the closet gays he refers to?
Yesterday on Christiane Amanpour's half hour programme on CNN she had a fascinating interview with Sir ian McKellan, now 79 and tackling Shakespeare's King Lear for the second time. Apart from acting on stage and in films and his advocacy for gay rights, she touched on his work in schools talking about gay rights.
There is one lovely anecdote about this work. He talks about the fact that gay people are everywhere, that there will be gay children in each school and gay teachers only they are too afraid to come out as gay because of the reaction of their colleagues. In one school there was a short silence until one of the teachers sitting at the back stood up and told the assembly "I am gay!" At that point all the pupils turned around and burst into applause. Heartwarming!
Thanks for that information. From the trailer, it appears to have been made for cinema release. i hope it gets as far as Bangkok.
Equally, McKellan was clearly a very handsome man in his younger days.
In my youth I saw McKellan a few years after he had become an actor. He was playing two English kings, Shakespeare's Richard II and Marlowe's Edward II, in repertoire at the Edinburgh Festival. I was with a friend who had aspirations to become an actor (after acting school he actually became a priest instead!) and who was madly in love with McKellan at the time - in his mind only. He was sad because he knew from other friends that McKellan was gay and had a partner. That was the first time I heard about his being gay.
Edward !! was perhaps apt because he is assumed to be one of the few English kings to have had a long openly gay relationship - with the son of one of his Knights at court. Both men were married and there is now no way to prove the extensive rumours. After Edward was forced to abdicate another rumour surfaced that he had been executed by having a red-hot poker thrust up his anus. This is how Marlowe visually portrays the death in his play. So graphic was it for its time that Edinburgh matrons left the theatre in droves before the end and there were letters galore to the local press and the city council about the filth they allowed in their theatre! When later televised by the BBC it caused a similar storm of protest as it had the first gay kiss ever seen on British TV.
I'm returning to McKellan having just seen an address he gave quite recently to the Oxford Union. In it he talks about various gay-related subjects, but the most fascinating is the part where he talks about his own youth when gay boys were pointed at and given the label "queer". He talks about labels - gay, lesbian, straights etc. He then talks about a school he had recently addressed. Start here at 13'30' until 18'35"
The rest of the talk has some fascinating moments, as when he tells about being asked to meet President Nelson Mandela to persuade him to add a rule saying it would be against the law to discriminate against sexuality. After explaining the issue, he asked the President, "Do you think, when we leave the meeting, we can tell the media that you support this new law of no discrimination of gay people in the constitution?" He said, "Of course!"
As McKellan then pointedly adds, "you don't spend all of your life, you don't pick up arms, you don't stay in prison for 27 years in support of the idea that white people and black people should be treated the same and then say that gay people, they should be treated differently.
"And so South Africa became the first country in the world to have it in its Constitution that you may not discriminate on the grounds of sexuality. Out of the misery of apartheid came that hope and that beacon for change . . . South Africa was there first."