Gay actor Ian McKellen has spoken about the legacy of being a “second-class citizen”, saying he had never dreamed of being able to marry and have children.

In an interview with Details magazine, he was asked why he had not chosen to have a civil partnership.

He replied: “It’s never crossed my mind that it’d ever be possible for me. That’s the scar that I and so many others bear – we believed ourselves to be second-rate citizens for so long, the idea of being able to say ‘This is my husband, these are my children’ was not an option.”

The Lord of the Rings star, 70, came out at the age of 49. He recalled the pressures of having to live a secret life, saying: “I think that explains why a lot of actors of my generation are gay. Acting was a means to publicly display my emotions in a way that was illegal for me to do as a private person.

“It was horrible living this secret life. You could feel a little bit what it was like to be a Jew in central Europe during a certain period.”