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Sir Ian McKellen Discusses Coming Out and Standing Up For LGBTQ+ Activism

Renown theatre star and actor Sir Ian McKellen has discussed his activism in the LGBTQ+ community in an in-depth interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

The wide-ranging interview also saw McKellen share his views of President Trump and being named for a knighthood by Margaret Thatcher.

McKellen tells Amanpour how he recalls being in Paris watching Margaret Thatcher’s resignation, when he received a call from Downing Street asking if he would accept a knighthood. After saying he would “think about it”, McKellen tells CNN that Thatcher appeared just moments afterwards, making the offer virtually one of her last acts as leader of the country.



Having previously backed anti-gay legislation such as Section 28, McKellen tells CNN that the offer of a knighthood was a significant gesture.

My career as an actor, which was thought to be worthy of a knighthood, could not be impeded by the fact I said I was gay… The very, very last thing [Thatcher] did as Prime Minister was to give me a knighthood. Of course, she was a supporter of Section 28, but that was an indication to me that the world actually was changing, and she could not control it.

McKellen speaks to Amanpour about the importance of coming out, something he did live on radio at the age of 49 in response to a question on Section 28. Now McKellen tours schools and universities to discuss coming out, telling CNN about some of his experiences and the future of LGBT rights.

Ahead of potentially his final Shakespearean performances in the West End, McKellen addresses comparisons made between President Trump and Richard III, alongside Trump’s use of social media on the world stage.

Well, he’s so illiterate. He displays his inadequacies every time he opens his mouth, I’m afraid. And every time he tweets… Dictators and leaders have taken advantage of the mass media ever since it was available to them. Whether it was the radio, advertising, and now television or film. And he’s the master of the television, you have to grant him that… It seems to me, as an outsider, that what he enjoys most in life is not power, but fame.

Sir Ian McKellen will appear in 100 performances of King Lear at Duke of York’s Theatre in London until 3rd November. You can book tickets here.

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