A Kinght OutIan McKellen on:

    Growing up Gay

    At my school in the north of England, when I was 12, a boy in our class died. I don't know how I discovered the circumstances of his death, as we never talked about it at the time. He had been found hanging from the doorway of an outside lavatory, partially dressed in his mother's underwear. A 12 year old suicide - and it seemed to me something to do with obsession and sex and misery. At that age, I was bewildered and nervous as to how any of this might fit in with my own growing certainty that, much as I was attracted to the girls at school and Sunday School, I was passionate about the boys.

    Shortly after, there was a widely-publicised sex-change, with "before-and-after" photographs in all the newspapers. So, as I entered my teens, I thought I too might be changing sex and I waited for my breasts to grow. I fumbled and flirted my way through puberty and no-one helped me to understand myself.

    Nor did I share David Hockney's early experience of sex, living close by in the northern city Bradford. David tells me that:

      "When I was about 13, I went to the cinema in Bradford and during the film, the man sitting next to me took hold of my hand and put it on his cock. I've loved the cinema ever since."

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