“I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out.” – Ian McKellen

“I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out.” – Ian McKellen

Actor Ian McKellen marked the 30th anniversary of his public coming out with a tweet, saying that he has “never met a gay person who regretted coming out”, himself included.

In 1988, the UK was about to pass Section 28, which said that local governments “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.”

In the months leading up to Section 28’s passage, straight pundits and politicians took every opportunity to scaremonger about “predatory homosexuals” trying to recruit children. One Member of Parliament even said, “I do not agree with homosexuality. I think that [Section 28] will help outlaw it and the rest will be done by AIDS, with a substantial number of homosexuals dying of AIDS. I think that’s probably the best way.”

In 1987, McKellen visited San Francisco, where he says he learned “that coming-out was crucial to self esteem.” In early 1988, he appeared on a radio show to discuss Section 28 with a newspaper editor who defended the homophobic law.

McKellen, “riled by the bland pomposity of his homophobia,” decided to come out. He later said that it “probably surprised me more than my being gay can have shocked any listener who knew my work.”

He continued to protest Section 28, which passed later that year and was repealed in 2003.

And he has been working to advance LGBT rights ever since.

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3 Comments

  1. Kenny
    January 30, 09:42 Reply

    I agree…. It’ll be hard at first but eventually everything will be fine and coming out won’t be something to regret.

  2. Vhagar
    January 30, 13:02 Reply

    Selective amnesia then…

    I love Ian and he’s right when he says that coming out is crucial to self esteem. But coming out is not something that should be politicized for good or for bad.
    It varies on a person to person basis. That also means that while it ends some people, some people regret it, at least temporarily. Some people lose support systems, sources of sustenance, jobs etc.

    Well, it’s an open ended statement, so he could mean that over the course of their life (long term), the joys outweigh the pains for a gay person. I would actually agree with that.

    His bravery was unprecedented and it would be wonderful for more people to follow that path but because they’re ready to “brave the storm”, not because they believe that “nobody has ever regretted the decision”.

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