Ian McKellen apologizes for “careless” remarks regarding sexual abuse

Ian McKellen apologizes for “careless” remarks regarding sexual abuse

Ian McKellen is walking back comments he made about how being in the closet makes some gay men sexual predators.

The controversy started during an appearance on the #QueerAF podcast at the National Student Pride 2019 event held in London on February 23rd.

When asked about the #MeToo movement and people like Bryan Singer and Kevin Spacey – both former Hollywood darlings who were brought down by accusations of sexually assaulting other men and boys – McKellen really put his foot in his mouth.

Broadcaster Evan Davis had asked him, “The last year… #MeToo has exploded. Allegations all over the place about all sorts of people. Your world – film, theatre – affected more than any other scene. It must be pretty depressing when you pick up your newspaper and you see people you’ve worked with – Bryan Singer, Kevin Spacey – you see allegations swirling around. I just wonder what your reaction is when you see this unleashed on the world in the last 18 months.”

McKellen responded, “Well frankly, I’m waiting for someone to accuse me of something, and me wondering whether they’re not telling the truth and me having forgotten, you know.”

The 79-year-old actor then added, “But with the couple of names you’ve mentioned, people I’ve worked with, both of them were in the closet. And hence all their problems as people and their relationships with other people, if they had been able to be open about themselves and their desires, they wouldn’t have started abusing people in the way they’ve been accused.”

The comments initially went under the radar, but then started making traction online in the last couple of days, with social media users calling out the actor, arguing that the men were just predators and being in the closet was not to blame.

Ian McKellen posted to his Twitter page a statement addressing the “careless remarks”.

He said:

“As part of an extended podcast recently, I suggested that if closeted people were instead open about their sexuality, they wouldn’t abuse others. That, of course, is wrong.

“My intention was to encourage the LGBT audience I was addressing, to be proud and open about their sexuality. In doing so, my point was clumsily expressed. I would never, ever trivialize or condone abuse of any kind.

“I deeply regret my careless remarks and apologise unreservedly for any distress I caused.

“When it comes to abuse by people in positions of power, the correct response is clear. The accusers must be heard and the accused given the opportunity to clear their names. If the accusations prove credible, the abuser’s access to power should be removed.”

It is unlikely McKellen was trying to excuse any bad behavior. Most likely he was, awkwardly, trying to point out how being stuck in the closet can really fuck people up. And that is sadly very true.

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5 Comments

  1. Rainbow Nova
    March 04, 10:21 Reply

    Let’s paint a scenario as follows:

    From birth, a person has being taught and indoctrinated with a culture/beliefs that despise sugar (yes honey, icing sugar/table sugar/sweets/candy etc) and the reason was that it was unethical, wrong, dangerous and leads to destruction. Urges of taking anything “sweet” things rises from normal to abnormally unhealthy in a very short time, it’s called a negative feedback loop.

    As the urge is suppressed, the person can only go for a while before one is tempted again and thus the cycle continues in a regular fashion except the urge grows stronger with every withdrawal mechanism weakening every time the urge is suppressed. I would now liken that urge not to a sexual approach as I’m at the moment referring to childhood years but to personality/identity. As much as sexuality can’t be alienated from one’s being and shouldn’t then it just be acknowledged that people feel their identity attached to their own fluidity though most people don’t realize or notice it.

    I’ve realized recently (having discovered my younger brothers possibly queer) that due to the toxic conditioning we as Nigerian LGBTQIA+ people have been raised (or still being raised as it is), we have fallen into the trap of believing that our attractions are inhuman and unnatural so we treat our sexuality as though it’s a universe apart from our identity/personality, I’m not referring to stereotypes just to be clear.

    Think about it, every single thing in your life is somehow connected to your sexuality in some way and as much as we may feel we have to “justify” our right to express ourselves as being not only sexual/physical but emotional, mental, psychological etc, we shouldn’t have to prove anything to anyone really as whether anyone cares/likes/condones it or not, our sexuality is as natural as the color of our skin, eyes, blood and even deeper still. It’s like a story of who you are before you were even born, our genes play a vital role in our overall activities so the same genes coding for your sexuality I believe is nowhere alien to that of your academics as it is a part of your life’s symmetry. Your sexuality doesn’t predict your personality/choice of profession rather it forms an integral part of its significance to you. I don’t quite understand it well myself but seeing my siblings being who they are and able to understand them through my love and own experiences makes me even more accepting of myself and enlightened of who I am.

    At times we may try to/actively seek approval from others for the justification for our liberation and self expression but really we need not fight these internal battles alone and inside ourselves, I believe now that it’s possible that my own father/mother or even the president of this country might be queer. Call me crazy but it’s not to justify any claims of the true natural nature of my sexuality, it is to establish the truth that there really is homonormality (though silenced and rejected by society due to the illusion of heteronormativity and by the way I’m not “anti-hetero” as society likes to chant that as the gay agenda) and I believe it plays a very crucial part of the circle of life as we see it only vaguely and shortsighted-ly, blinded by our toxic environment and loved ones to see the true reality of life as it is, indescribably infinite.

    Now to address the issue of closeted individuals and abuse, I agree immensely in the sense that a closeted life like the sugar-deprived life will breed room for vices to eventually satisfy such uncontrollable and natural cravings to a decision to either do it honestly or deceitfully. To be honest to oneself is to be free of the illusion of guilt and shame of being one’s true self but to be deceitful is to choose to lie to oneself or at least try to trick oneself into satisfying the selfish desire while acting “straight”/self-righteous to seem as though one is still obedient to the toxic doctrines while indulging in secret exploits of satisfying those cravings by any means necessary which inevitably result in harming others by stealing, robbing, deceiving etc. Of course being in the closet is no basis of justification for abuse nor does it exactly explain the reason behind it but it does reveal why a person might be more susceptible to abusing others although it still doesn’t change the fact that it is the person’s choice to carry out such terrible acts which are evil, wrong and hold dreadful appropriate consequences.

    Let us enlighten those we can and see everyone whether straight or queer as family or at least fellow humans living on the same planet with different lives but also sometimes relatable experiences and worthy of learning from each other. I do agree internalized homophobia is as toxic as death itself but I like to think that if someone could’ve been there to help me through my IH times (although I did have role models and inspirations I learned from and looked up to without they even being physically there for me as I did go through those times quite alone but came out stronger than ever) or at least impacted me with powerful words of wisdom and truth, it wouldn’t have been so bad and taken so long. I thank the person able to finish this write-up as I know I can type for the universe (God bless my friends who keep up with this habit of mine) and God bless you too.

    With love and buttered popcorn, 🌈 🌌
    I wish you a life worth living that you deserve.

    • Pink Panther
      March 04, 13:35 Reply

      Lol. I think I’m blessed because I persevered from start to finish. Mainly because I wanted to see where you were going with this.

      But nice perspective all the same.

      • Malik
        March 04, 16:56 Reply

        I’m blessed too… Lol. This should have been a standalone article though. It would have gotten more engagement that way.

    • no
      March 07, 07:51 Reply

      What a comment. I feel like it needs it’s own standalone article. Also PP can I have Rainbow Nova’s email?

  2. Eddie
    March 04, 18:58 Reply

    A lotta words,hermano lol
    But the message is clear👍

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