Ian McKellen Explains How Coming Out As Gay Made His Life Change 'For The Better'

"Almost overnight everything in my life changed for the better..."
Ian McKellen at the 2023 NTAs
Ian McKellen at the 2023 NTAs
Joe Maher via Getty Images

Ian McKellen is rejoicing over his decision to come out as gay 35 years ago, declaring that his life almost immediately “changed for the better” as a result.

The Lord Of The Rings actor got reflecive in an interview with Variety on the pivotal moment in his life.

He came out as gay during a 1988 radio broadcast in an act of protest against laws proposed in the UK that barred the “promotion of homosexuality” by local officials.

“Almost overnight everything in my life changed for the better — my relationships with people and my whole attitude toward acting changed,” Ian told Variety.

Ian, the star of the upcoming thriller The Critic, has previously opened up about his decision to come out. He told his social media followers in 2018 that “life at last begins to make sense” when they make the choice.

He told Variety that coming out as gay improved his ability to act, as well.

“The kind of acting that I had been good at was all about disguise — adopting funny voices and odd walks. It was about lying to the world,” he said.

“I was no longer in the situation where I was running along beside the character explaining it to the audience. I just became the character.”

Ian also expressed doubts about whether he would have transitioned from acting onstage to films if he hadn’t come out.

“People who are not gay just simply don’t know how it damages you to be lying about what you are and ashamed of yourself,” he said. “I was brought up at a time when it was illegal for me to have sex with a man. And that was not that long ago.”

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