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Sir Ian McKellen: ‘I regret not coming out until I was 49’

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  1. I simply adore you Ian. What a total hero you are to us. I will love you forever.

    1. theGentleWarrior 4 Dec 2012, 1:40pm

      Same here

  2. Sir Ian, you came out when you were ready. There is NOTHING to regret about that.

    1. theGentleWarrior 4 Dec 2012, 1:42pm

      That’s is an understatement. Ya when he was ready, but more to his credit, he came publicly out to fight Section 28 and secure rights for us all. He is a Hero, nothing less.

  3. Obviously it is a great improvement in society that people can come out and admit their sexuality without fear of ostracism or persecution. That is, unquestionably, a major step forward.

    Unfortunately, for myself, I wish I had never come out. Not because I have encountered any homophobia or persecution – I haven’t – but because the whole world of sex and sexuality has been a monstrous disappointment for me, and the source of incredible angst, frustration, disappointment and despair.

    I was quite happy denying and suppressing this aspect of myself until I got to the age of 22 and society encouraged me to admit it – since then I have derived nothing but pain from having to engage with it. Jealousy towards others, feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, loneliness as I’m the only single person I know, and revulsion at how repulsive and unattractive I am – all things I never had to cope with when I denied and suppressed my sexuality.

    1. I would not, of course, try to prescribe my own misgivings as a model for everyone else to follow. Some people, so it would seem, are genuinely unhappy keeping their sexuality suppressed, and do feel the sense of relief and joy that Sir Ian mentions here. For them coming out is clearly the best option.

      But for those who are perfectly comfortable not engaging with their sexuality, who would suffer as I have from trying to make something of it and failing miserably, I worry that the all-pervasive message “come out, you’ll feel much better if you do” may be actively harmful. The world of sex and relationships can tear people apart, leaving them wrecked shells of their former selves – and I do not wish to subject others to the same torments that led to me becoming the bitter, hollow, wretched creature I now am.

      1. Christopher in Canada 4 Dec 2012, 4:35am

        Want to talk about it? We are here, even though we are but words on a screen… you are not alone. On the other hand:

        Stop whining “nobody loves me!!”

        Everybody hasn’t met you yet!

      2. Sounds to me that you’re the sort of person inclined to be miserable whether you came out or stayed in the closet. I don’t know you but wonder whether you would have been better dealing with sexuality even had you been born straight – I suspect not. I don’t want anyone (particularly someone young and scared) reading this and thinking it is a bad thing to accept your sexuality and ‘come out’. It is not – it is the best thing you can do.

      3. The message of coming out is not that life will immediately have a Hollywood climax, but more that one will be spared the torment of lying to oneself and others: there’s no guarantee of happiness. (The tiresome mantra of “There’s someone out there for everyone” is peddled by non-gay people even more than gays, and is no less inaccurate for all that.)

        VP, you usually express yourself so fluently and judiciously that I can’t help feeling you’re overdramatising your situation somewhat. I would suggest that you look to yourself for contentment and not imagine that you need to be part of a couple to be whole.

    2. mickie_newton 4 Dec 2012, 3:49am

      VP straight people can go though the same you know. When I think of some of the pain I’ve seen my straight siblings go through, it’s just shocking. Anyone can feel lonely etc. Your sexuality has nothing to do with it.

      Hope you find happiness soon VP

      1. Oh yes, sexuality can be just as poisonous for straight people too. I never said it couldn’t. The difference is that straight people are not confronted with all this “come out, it’s the thing to do, you’ll feel so much better” schtick. If they are more comfortable suppressing and not engaging with sexuality then there is little pressure on them to do otherwise – where there is significant pressure for us to do otherwise.

        Although even without this difference in cultural expectation, given the comparative numbers of straight and gay people in the population, it is undeniable that finding a mate is many times harder for gay people. With 3-5% of the population as our constituency, compared to nearly 50% for straight people, it is statistically at least ten times harder. Which means we have to try five times as hard as straight people of equivalent capability for half the results they can expect, and very few of us have the time or energy to devote to such a pitch of application.

    3. I find it quite hard to believe you’re the only single person you know. I know plenty of other single people, and not all of them are gay.

    4. Spanner1960 6 Dec 2012, 11:23am

      Sexuality is simply a label.
      It merely directs you to the people you feel most attracted to, in the hope they may be attracted to you. Things like “gay community” are a myth – there are no values, expectations or goals – you simply need to be who you are. It is unfortunate that society pushes this concept of sex, partnership and companionship so much when in fact a lot of it is so very hollow.

      I didn’t come out until I was 31, after a series of rather odd straight relationships. I’ve had my fair share of shags, boyfriends and even a CP, but I have lived alone for some years now, and haven’t had intimate contact for at least ten. Life really is what you make of it – live it on your own terms, they way you want and don’t let anybody tell you how you should live it.
      Learn to enjoy your own company – I really couldn’t bear the idea of having anyone in my life now – remember, there is a big difference between being alone and being lonely.

  4. mickie_newton 4 Dec 2012, 3:47am

    I have some idea how he feels as I kept it from people for a long time. Even though my family were very open about their support for gay rights etc, there was always that nagging thing of “What if I’m wrong and they’re disappointed in me” you just can’t help but worry that you may be judged!

    But yeh I understand that regret because I’m the same!

    Love you Ian :)

  5. You should not regret anything, Ian. There is a time and place for all things. Nothing happens by chance or coincidence. There is a reason for everything all we need to do is understand what that reason is. You can out at the right time and put Stonewall into place. You have been and still are an inspiration and role model for many people, both gay and straight. Be happy with what you have done and continue to do….we are :-)

  6. I wish someone would make him Lord McKellen. He’s even more deserving of the acolade than Olivier who was made a life peer.

  7. “You know, when I was growing up in 1950s England, there were no gay clubs I knew about. There were no bars. Homosexuals were shamed publicly and imprisoned. You were on your own, looking over your shoulder all the time, hoping in the handshake of a stranger that he might be somebody gay.”

    Some parts of the UK are unfortunately STILL like this. The sad thing is that some people are STILL in this situation thinking that they are so unusual because they are made to feel that way by the general atmosphere; and there are STILL many parts of the UK where ignorant pockets exist – you know the kind : re-coiling in astonishment at the sight of someone who even just may be LGBT, looking completely flabbergasted when boarding a bus or train or walking into a supermarket.

    In my opinion there’s unfortunately only certain types of areas that have advanced from this in the biggest of ways.

  8. theGentleWarrior 4 Dec 2012, 2:01pm

    Ian McKellen has been a symbol and voice for gay rights and change.

    Growing up over the pond in Ireland, he is one of the few voices that spoke for gays.

    He himself was/is safe and secure with the fears of coming out to consider, had the message, the platform & power to make a difference.

    His coming out and his gay right activism @49 helped me to know who and what I was, it allowed me to come out at 22.

    Arguably when I reach 49, that will be 27 of free out gay life I have in part thanks to the selfless acts of courage by Ian McKellen.

    From my heart, thank you Ian

    And this is just one man’s story about the difference made to his life among what must be thousands that Ian McKellen made.

  9. Spanner1960 6 Dec 2012, 11:30am

    One tip from a friend I found useful when I came out was firstly to recognise that you are gay, but not to shout it from the rooftops, but keep it to yourself and situations will arise when you fell you can confide in others.

    The other was NEVER to lie.
    If somebody asks you if you are gay, say yes. The fact they have asked the question in the first place indicates they have a pretty good idea already, so just be honest; they weight of living a lie will just vapourise.

    Oh, and if they do have a problem with it, it is their problem, not yours, and if friends cannot accept what you are, they obviously weren’t your friends in the first place, so you have lost nothing.

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