Ian McKellen Compares Himself to Slave Due to Oppression He's Faced as Gay

The 'X-Men' actor talks about the struggles faced by LGBTQ people and is 'in despair' to know that some of the world's most famous soccer players are frightened to come out as gay.

AceShowbiz - Sir Ian McKellen feels devastated some of the world's most famous footballers are too scared to come out as gay. "The Good Liar" actor, 84 - who publicly came out as homosexual in 1988 and has since been a leading LGBTQ+ campaigner - said he finds it "astonishing" Premier League stars can be so confident on the pitch but still too fearful to admit their sexuality.

"For me, coming out was an absolute revelation. I realised the oppression I'd been under whereas before I accepted it, like slaves do. If you've been oppressed, when you're released, you realise how stupid and cruel it was and how daft other people behave," he told the Daily Mail.

"The shame of being gay is something a lot of gay people will say they've experienced. It comes from other people, not yourself, which they visit on you and you accept."

"Even today there are moments I have to think, 'Am I going to have to watch my language or am I going to be myself?' There are Premier League footballers who are unable to say they're gay. So it's astonishing today that people who are so confident on the field and so successful in life are frightened."

Ian's latest role in the play "Frank and Percy", currently running in London, sees him play lonely sociology professor Ian who finds comfort into a friendship with an equally lonesome teacher who is mourning his late wife. The actor said he has been "amazed" at audiences' enthusiasm as he expected some of them to be "staid and conservative."

He added, "But they lapped it up and chortled and shouted out approval at some points. The same was true in Bath where you couldn't get a ticket. So it seems word has gone round that this is a bit of a crowd-pleaser. Yet in 1987 it would have been illegal for me to have sex. Back then I just thought that's how things were. You just got on with it."

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