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Sir Ian McKellen on a lifetime of activism and why he never came out to his parents

The legendary actor opens up in Attitude's new-look June issue.

By Steve Brown


One of the most iconic film and stage actors in history, Sir Ian McKellen has never shied away from talking about his sexuality.

After coming out back in 1988, the Golden Globe winner has led movie franchises such as Lord of the Rings and X-Men as an out and proud gay man, but as he reveals in Attitude’s new-look June issueavailable to download and in shops now – he never came out to his parents.

Growing up in a Christian home, 78-year-old Ian –  who is set to shed light on his life in the upcoming documentary film McKellen: Playing The Part – says his parents religious beliefs and the fact they cared about everyone “whether they knew them or not” had a lasting effect on him.

“I joined the family tradition of standing up for what you believed in,” he says. “The side of my public life that’s not as an actor is being on the side of reform.


“What my parents believed in was a Christian view of the world, a non-conformist view of the world in which people cared about each other, whether they knew them or not.”

Sir Ian goes on to say how if he had come out to his parents, it could have been a surprise and shock, but he knows they would have accepted it.

“They believed that people should always be treated with respect and sympathy, which is why I think if I had come out to my parents it might’ve been a surprise and a shock to them, but they would have accepted it. That’s what I like to think.


“If being gay marks you out as being different, in the sense that you are treated differently by other people, I was sort of fulfilling the man who my parents would’ve wanted me to be.

“Which is actually nothing to do with being gay.”

Read Ian’s full interview in Attitude’s new-look June issue, which also comes with a second cover featuring Troye Sivan. Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: 3 issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.

McKellen: Playing the Part will be broadcast live to UK cinemas on Sunday 27 May. Find your nearest screening at