Actor and activist Sir Ian McKellen spoke up on the topic coming out recently, saying he has “never met a gay person who came out and who regretted it.”

Sir Ian, who came out publicly 26 years ago, told Buzzfeed on Friday: “Anyone in public life who comes out, comes out primarily for themselves, and their life is immediately improved. That’s what happened to me.”

He also offered advice to those who are struggling to come out, saying: “I feel sorry for anyone who feels the need to lie about themselves. That’s not good for you. It doesn’t lead to a happy life. And I’ve never met a gay person who came out and who regretted it. Never.

“So, my advice to anyone in the closet — it doesn’t matter whether they’re a teacher, or a politician, or a priest, or an actor — come out. Join the human race.”

He went on to cite Ellen Page, his X-Men co-star, who recently came out as gay at a HRC conference.

“All this has come to a happy conclusion, hasn’t it? With Ellen Page — Kitty Pryde — coming out. That gladdened my heart so much.”

He added: “For people who are lonely … reading that about someone whose career they follow is a little bit of a help and encouragement to them to think it does get better.”

In an interview last year, Sir Ian said: “I do have a regret about coming out – I wish I had come out much earlier. But again, what can you do? You do what you can now.”

The actor has also said Russia’s anti-gay laws are “appalling”, and that he would do “almost anything” to help repeal repeal them, but boycotting this year’s Winter Olympics is not the answer.