Sir Ian McKellen: ‘I wish I had come out much earlier’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Actor and activist Sir Ian McKellen has spoken of how he had “one regret about coming out” – he wished he had done it much sooner.

Sir Ian, who came out publicly 25 years ago, told Men’s Journal his “indignation” at Section 28 at the time spurred him on.

He said: “I was angry because of a law that was anti-gay in the United Kingdom, and it was easier to come out in my indignation.

“It was very easy, but I was 49 years old. I hadn’t given much thought about it before then, to tell you the truth.

“I was living very happily and openly as a gay man. It all happened in a bit of a rush when I decided to come out.

“When people are worrying about coming out, they’re worried about what other people will think, they’re worried about whether they’ll lose the love of their family.”

He added: “I do have a regret about coming out – I wish I had come out much earlier. But again, what can you do? You do what you can now.”

In an interview last year, Sir Ian spoke of how difficult it had been growing up while homosexuality was illegal: “There was nothing positive about homosexuality in the newspapers and it was against the law to make love. I knew people my age who’d been sent to prison for doing it! When I tell schoolchildren that, they can’t believe it.”

In April, Sir Ian said: “Now I’m in a country where the laws don’t discriminate any longer. I feel accepted and about bloody time, frankly. That – plus the fact that I’m still working and still have my health – means I’m as happy now as I’ve ever been.”

The actor has also said Russia’s anti-gay laws are “appalling”, and that he would do “almost anything” to help repeal repeal them, but boycotting next year’s Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi is not the answer.