Gay actor Derek Jacobi reflects on coming out to his mother decades ago

Patrick Kelleher February 20, 2021
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Derek Jacobi

Sir Derek Jacobi (R) with his partner Richard Clifford. (Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Derek Jacobi has opened up about the incredible moment he came out as gay to his mother decades ago.

Jacobi, 82, told The Telegraph that he knew he was gay from an early age, and he eventually worked up the courage to tell his mother that he was attracted to men while he was a student in Cambridge.

His acting career began during his time in Cambridge, and it was there that he struck up a friendship with Ian McKellan in 1958. They have remained friends ever since.

“I knew I was gay very early on, although it wasn’t called gay back then,” the acclaimed actor said.

“I knew that I wasn’t into girls in the way that I should be. I dated girls, and we sat in the back row of the cinema, and I did all that I was supposed to do, but I wasn’t enjoying it.

“I confessed to my mother while I was at university and she very typically and sweetly said: ‘All boys go through this stage.'”

The Tony-award winning actor continued: “I was a loner for years, but I’ve been with my partner for 43 years, which is quite an achievement. It remains a stable and loving relationship. It was another piece of luck in my life.”

Derek Jacobi praised his parents as ‘wonderful’.

Elsewhere in the interview, Jacobi reflected on the similarities between the coronavirus pandemic and the Second World War, which marked the early years of his childhood.

“There’s a feeling with the pandemic that I am ending my life as I began it. I was born the year before the war broke out. In my early years, everyone was kind and lovely and helpful to each other, because they were all fighting this terrible war.

“It’s kind of happened again now. I hope it lasts. Somehow, in the war, it didn’t last once peace had come and we’d all settled down again.”

Derek Jacobi previously opened up about coming out to his parents in an interview with the Daily Mail in 2015.

In that interview, the actor said his mother insisted that being gay was just a phase.

“They were wonderful, my parents, not much was said but they kind of knew, they got it,” he said.

“I wasn’t open. I just lived my life and people responded to me.”

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