Miriam Margolyes declares she ‘wouldn’t be straight for anything’ as she makes Vogue cover debut

Vogue cover star Miriam Margolyes 'never felt shame' around being gay.

National treasure Miriam Margolyes has opened up about her lesbian identity as she made her Vogue cover debut, at the age of 82.

Whether advising straight women to find love on Grindr, attending her first Pride parade aged 81 or spilling the tea on her sex tapes, Margolyes has no shortage of shocking and hilarious revelations. Now the award-winning screen star is loudly proclaiming her pride.

Margolyes, perhaps best known for her turn as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter films, appeared in British Vogue‘s Pride July issue, alongside other “LGBTQ+ pioneers”, including Doctor Who‘s Ncuti Gatwa, House of the Dragon star Emma D’Arcy and Bella Ramsey, from The Last of Us.

The eccentric actor, who posed nude among a display of pastries in the Vogue shoot, first came out in 1966 when homosexuality was still illegal, although the law did not specifically criminalise lesbians.

“I never had any shame about being gay or anything really,” she said. “I knew it wasn’t criminal because it was me. I couldn’t be criminal.”

Margolyes admitted regret at coming out to her Jewish parents at the time, who made her swear on the Torah that she would never have sex with a woman again.

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“It hurt them and I don’t want to hurt people,” she recalled.

Despite living through difficult times, including losing 34 “beautiful, talented, funny, gifted” friends during the Aids crisis, she stressed that she had no desire to be straight.

The Call the Midwife star joked: “I actually find lesbians a bit on the boring side, because they’re a bit heavy-handed about it all,” before adding, “Gay people are very lucky because we are not conventional, we are a group slightly apart. It gives us an edge.

“We’re good artists, we’re good musicians. I like being gay. I wouldn’t want to be straight for anything.”

Margolyes, who published her best-selling memoir This Much Is True in 2021 and plans to release another, Oh Miriam! Stories from an Extraordinary Life, has become well-known for her hilarious talk-show appearances.

“It’s a strong position, if you’re not afraid to be who you are,” she said. “We’re all so insecure. People are frightened such a lot of the time and what I’ve always tried to do is to make people feel more relaxed, make people feel good about themselves, and just try and lessen the torture for people a bit.”

Over the pandemic, the BAFTA-winning actor grew “depressed” at being unable to see her partner of 55 years, academic Heather Sutherland, who lives in Amsterdam. Even so, she stands by the decision to live in different cities throughout their entire relationship.

Miriam Margolyes at her first ever Pride i
Miriam Margolyes at her first ever Pride, in Tasmania, Australia. (Screen capture via ABC_

“We were able to lead our lives without diminishing them,” she explained. “I didn’t want her to have to give up anything, and I didn’t want to give up anything. I wanted my cake and I wanted to eat it too. So far, it’s worked. Gay people have the luck to be able to fashion the relationship they want. It’s much more flexible for us.

“I think we have more freedom than [straight people] do. Particularly gay boys, they’re always f**king everything. It’s amazing. I don’t know how they get away with it.”

As for her take on current British politics which is becoming increasingly anti-LGBTQ+, she admitted to being worried.

“It’s not so much the gay part of things,” she said. “I just think England has become a s**t-hole. And the government is at the heart of the s**t. There’s been a moral slide in England into the deep pit of iniquity.”

And she doesn’t hold out much hope for improvement.

“I cannot believe that people are genuinely in approval of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. Something’s happened to ordinary decent people that they can think that that is a legitimate solution.”

But despite her strong opinions, Margolyes ruled out any late move into politics. “There was a time when I sort of flirted half with the idea of it, but I’m too much of a loose cannon,” she said.