He’s set to lead the Manchester Pride parade today (August 29) but Sir Ian McKellen has warned that the LGBTQ rights movement has still not reached its conclusion.
The legendary film actor will lead the city’s celebrations today alongside a mystery “very special guest”, and appearing on BBC Breakfast
beforehand he said: "It’s more than just a celebration - there’s lots to celebrate, the world’s becoming a better place for gay people here.
But then you think abroad…
"We can now get married, gay people in this country, but not in Northern Ireland. So as we celebrate we think, ‘the fight’s not quite over’.”
Asked to compare his experience of growing up as a gay man to how things are in 2015, he recalled: "When I was growing up in Bolton it was illegal to be gay. You could not have sex with somebody of the same gender or you might be put in prison, and I had friends who were!
"So we’re now in a situation where gay people can marry the person they love. It’s been a huge improvement but it’s taken a lot of work.”
He added: "One thing I’ve taken great pride in with the gay rights movement is there hasn’t been any violence, and that’s almost unique in the civil rights movement.”
McKellen, who is the Grand Marshal of the Manchester march, has teased
that he’ll be joined by “perhaps the most famous gay person in the country” for the mile-long procession today.