Ian McKellen is glad he revealed he was gay before he was knighted in 1991.
The English actor holds the honour for services to the performing arts, which he was presented with three years after he came out to the general public via a BBC Radio show.
In a recent interview with Britain’s Attitude magazine, Ian admitted he was pleased he’d been honest about who he was before he received the prestigious title.
“I will always be glad that I didn’t accept the knighthood until I’d come out of the closet,” the 78-year-old explained. “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.”
The Lord of the Rings star believes the reason for this is simply that: “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?” he queried. “Once you say I’m gay, then you know where you are with a person.”
The Oscar nominee was open about his sexual orientation with fellow actors during his early stage career, and discussed his plans to come out to the rest of the world with Tales of the City author Armistead Maupin, who is also gay.
According to Ian, his friend didn’t know what to say.
“He was much more politically aware than I was at the time,” the film star recalled. “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.”
Ian affirmed that his 1988 radio admission was “the best thing (I) ever did in (my) life”.