Ian McKellen tells Olly Alexander why ‘all gay men should be trans allies’

Sir Ian McKellen and Olly Alexander on a video call

Sir Ian McKellen has urged gay people to be better allies to the transgender community.

The legendary actor and Stonewall co-founder joined It’s a Sin star Olly Alexander for a special LGBT+ History Month talk on TikTok Thursday (25 February), where they discussed trans allyship.

Sir Ian told Alexander: “I do hear people – gay people – talk about transgender people in very much the same terms as people used to talk about your common or garden gay. 

“The connection between us all is we come under the queer umbrella – we are queer. I quite like being queer actually. 

“The problems that transgender people have with the law are not dissimilar from what used to be the case for us, so I think we should all be allies really.”

The two moved on to the topic of the AIDS crisis, with Sir Ian praising It’s a Sin, the Russell T Davies AIDS crisis drama in which Alexander stars.

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He recalled when he first learned about the virus. 

“I remember hearing about AIDS when I was in New York,” he said. there was a rumour that Ronald Reagan, the president of America who was famously indifferent to gay people, that his agents were putting poison through the air conditioning into gay clubs.”

Sir Ian McKellen then explained how the AIDS crisis “got gays out of the sidelines” and made society acknowledge gay sex and gay people for the first time.

”We were not talking about gay sex, so the gays got out of the sidelines of society and got to the centre of it. After that came the achievements of the gay right movements. That is the one positive in all of this horror.”

“My experience was so different from yours with regard to sex and being gay,” he added. “I do envy your generation.”

 He also talked about coming out against Section 28, and how decades later schools are still not a place of equality. 

“I have been to many schools and I didn’t see one that obeys the current law that you have to treat everyone equally.”

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