Gay Rights, Historical Preservation, The Arts and other causes

1979: Acting Together

In the press, whether a short newsy paragraph or a full column of Levin vituperation, my union is dismissed as a foolish little set-up. Read More

1979: The Most Unkindest Cut of All

The march through London's West End on 24 July (1979) was a high-spirited and invigorating experience. At least 4,000 members of British Actors' Equity were on parade, representing every theatre in the country. Read More

1988: Ian McKellen, trainee-activist

The new Ian McKellen emerged with the new year. The actor was doorstepped at the Playhouse Theatre late one night in the first week of January by a journalist who had just seen his one-man show, Acting Shakespeare. She thrust a handful of papers at him and briefly explained the worry of gay rights groups over a clause in the Local Government Bill which they feared would send them back to the ghetto. McKellen listened, took the documents, and went home.Read More

1988: Section 28

Dearly beloved: my text for today is from the Local Government Act 1988 - Section 28:Read More

1989: What the Glorious Rose Has Given You

Day after day, and by night, we actors visit the Rose. To us, it is already a shrine. This is where modern drama was born. Read More

1989: A Shade of Pink at the Rose

At the moment, quite the most exciting theatrical novelty in London is not the emergence of James Bond as a song and dance man, nor even Tootsie's transformation into Shylock, but the reappearance of Rose, one of the oldest dames in the business. Read More

1990: Out With Your Lies

"Silence at Court - McKellen warns of a new sensation". That was the Evening Standard's headline when Michael Owen interviewed me 11 years ago, as Bent was about to have its world premiere at the Royal Court Theatre. Read More

1990: This Age of Discrimination

Throughout its recent leader "Homosexual Politics", The Times misuses the crucial word. Let us be clear. 'Homosexual" can refer to either gender. But the age of consent at issue concerns only gay men. Read More

1991: Closet Homophobes

Sir Ian McKellen attacks those who wish to maintain the present age of homosexual consent  Read More

1992: Outing Old Stage Frights

Ian McKellen reviews "Not In Front of The Audience", by Nicholas de Jongh. Read More

1993: Through a Gay Viewfinder

Whether the question is moral, military or genetic, opinion-formers persist in seeing homosexual issues from a straight angle.
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1993: No Reason to Treat Us Differently

Ian McKellen urges Parliament to lower the age of consent for homosexuals to 16.  Read More

1993: On the Anniversary of Oscar Wilde's Arrest

In London 98 years ago, as today, two of the most popular hits in the West End Theatre were An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest.  98 years ago this week, the author’s name was removed from the hoardings outside the theatres and, shortly after, the plays themselves were taken off. Read More

1993: The Age of Consent in UK

"Should the age of consent - that is the age at which people can legally have sex together in private - be the same for everyone irrespective of their gender or sexual orientation, or not?"  Read More

1994: It is a Question of Human Rights, Not Numbers

I was on a TV phone-in last week and during the course of a quarter of an hour segment, there were 2,000 calls from young men in the country who wanted to know how to tell their parents they were gay.    Read More

1994: Gay Games IV

Around the edge of the participant's medal it says: "To do one's best is the ultimate goal of human achievement. Read More

1995: Michael Barrymore Comes Out

The developing story of Michael Barrymore's coming out as a gay man has dominated the popular press this last week, understandably, as a very famous public image has been peeled aside to reveal an unexpected private life. Read More

1995: Foreword to "Gay Letters"

Judging by my mail these days, I am not alone in writing fewer letters than I used to.  Read More

1996: Before, Now and In Between

There is a fantasy as old as the modern gay rights movement, that if all our skins turned lavender overnight the majority, confounded by our numbers and our diversity and recognising a few of our faces, would at once let go of prejudice for evermore. Read More

1999: Coming Out For the Count

Michael Portillo's record on gay rights is both appalling and hypocritical. His 'confession' suggests this may not change. Read More

2000: A Gay Gandalf

Homophobia is Everywhere. Read More

2003: I Wish You'd Been There

The following address was delivered to the "Making a Difference" conference celebrating a decade of FFLAG (Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)  Read More

2008: Stonewall Equality Dinner Keynote

It was 20 years ago. The biggest story regarding gay people in this country was about AIDS, and our lives were beginning to become a matter of public discussion.  Read More

2008: The Hobart Shakespeareans

December, 1983: I was onstage at the Westwood (now the Geffen) Playhouse with my solo entertainment “Acting Shakespeare." Read More

2009: Growing up Gay

Foreword to Queers in History: Growing up gay was difficult in post-war UK.  To begin with, in a land where homosexuality was illegal, we had to accept the law and language of others to define ourselves. Read More

2010: Belarus Free Theatre

Since it was founded in 1974, the Young Vic has lived up to its name by sponsoring young writers, young directors and actors and their young audiences – a theatre that looks to the future.
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2012: What's Wrong With Us?

Any two people in the UK should be able to marry. The proposal is a modest one. Why then does it provoke such opposition from those like Lord Carey, who knows from his own experience "how wonderful marriage can be" and yet argues against gay citizens enjoying an equivalent marital bliss. Read More

2012: Message to the Prime Minister of New Zealand

New Zealand has an undeserved reputation (amongst those who have never visited) as living a little in the past, not quite up-to-date with the world elsewhere. As a regular visitor, I've often pointed out how, on social issues, the Kiwis have lead the world - first country to give women the vote, a nuclear-free stronghold and in the vanguard of civil rights for gay people. Read More

2013: Margaret Thatcher and the Unions

In the 1980's, there were Thatcher's battles with  our trade unions. The public violence, defending and attacking the miners' strike, was shocking: Read More

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