The man perhaps best-known around the globe as Wizard Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy certainly fulfilled his duties to the gay community at Pride London on Saturday.
Recently awarded the Companion of Honour for services to drama and equality by the Queen, Sir Ian McKellen showed his support with various contingents and personalities at the event.
He started the day with a visit to Downing Street.
Before the Pride march he accompanied members of Stonewall, which he co-founded, to discuss a range of gay issues with Gordon Brown.
He then headed to a Pride London reception and spoke to journalists, before taking his place on the parade.
Dressed in a dapper linen suit and a Stonewall ‘Some People Are Gay, Get Over It’ t-shirt (available from their website), he seemed less than keen to be photographed near the Mayor of London, who was surrounded by Conservative party balloons and indeed supporters.
Sir Ian marched alongside human rights and gay equality campaigner Peter Tatchell and Davis Mac-Ivalla, a leader of the Nigerian gay rights movement.
Next he was on a bus, supporting the Older Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transexual (OLGBT) Community as a recognition of older people’s contribution in the fight for LGBT rights.
Sir Ian is 69.
In his support for Pride he was hardly alone – some half a million people watched the parade and Mayor Boris Johnson led it along the entirety of the route.
The parade ended in Trafalgar Square where Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Secretary of State for Equality, both gave speeches.
Sir Ian also made an appearance on the main stage, helping to kick off the afternoon’s events.
Festival goers were entertained by music from chart-topping singer-songwriter Sandi Thom (If I Was A Punk Rocker) and Culture Beat (the hit makers of Mr Vain & Inside Out) amongst others.
Other entertainment included belly dancing, a drag performance and a fashion show.
The day’s activities culminated with a screening of the season finale of Doctor Who – an estimated 15,000 people stayed on to watch.
Paul Birrell, Chair of Pride London, commented:
“I am absolutely delighted to have had quite so many people at our event this year. This year really was a fun day out, full of party and politics for everyone.
“We saw Patty Boulaye, Therese and a host of stars, mixed with the political messages from Sir Ian McKellen, Nick Clegg, Richard Barnes and Harriet Harman to name but a few.
“We also promoted our campaign with Health Initiatives to raise £50,000 for a weekend HIV testing and support clinic in central London which people can still contribute to by texting “HI CLINIC” to 84424.
“I am especially proud that such a large and successful event is put on by volunteers.
“We have people working all year round to raise the half million pounds the event costs, to publicise the event and to put the event on.
“I would like to express my gratitude to all of them and also to our supporters, sponsors and funders who keep Pride London a free event!”
With no injuries or arrests Pride London 2008 was a huge success.
Here are some of our favourite images from the parade:
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