A while back I had a conversation with someone who was also gay about Ian Mckellen. The conversation surrounded Mckellen making comments that if more actors came out it would help the lgbt families visibility. The conversation I had surrounded the lack of knowledge the person had of Mckellen, believed that Mckellen only came out recently and had no real right to judge others on coming out.
Above : A young Ian Mckellen
I would like to make it clear I feel its up to ourselves when the time is right, although coming out as a celebrity does make it more visible for us all and helps people to understand how diverse our family truly is.
Its true Mckellen only came out at 48 when fighting against Section 28 in a radio broadcast. However he was open about his sexuality to people close to him but he wasn’t at the time, overly famous. In the eighties times were different, you couldn’t even openly kiss in the streets without being at risk of arrest in the UK, something many of us forget.
Its a simple error people make unknowing that Mckellen was one of the founders of Stonewall UK and has done so much for gay rights both here and abroad.
It was also simple error for Sam Smith to make not realising that he wasn’t the first openly gay person to win an Oscar. Dustin Lance Black pointed this out to Smith in a viral tweet. We need to cut Sam Smith some slack here and ask ourselves what we know about lgbt history and others within our community too. Most of us are unaware of legislation that meant gay men technically couldn’t hold hands in the street in the UK or share the same hotel room, according to the 1967 act that decriminalised homosexuality in the UK. How strict and unequal the law was at that point probably shaped the reactions of others who were homophobic or homosexual themselves.
Above: Sam Smith collecting his Oscar
Naturally the more we know the more we can teach others, making our family more understood when someone is unaware and ask questions we can enlighten them.
Pick up your lap top and Google about lgbt history or any ether still have a look at this site. Let’s not forget people like Patrick Trevor Roper and Peter Wildeblood or soon people will be forgetting about what Peter Tatchell and Dustin Lance Black have done for our wonderful family.