Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Sir Ian McKellen Reveals He Was Bullied For Being Gay in School

In a report posted by The Advocate, two-time Academy award nominee, Sir Ian McKellen, told school children at a drama workshop that he was bullied for being gay as a schoolboy.  Anti-LGBT bullying in schools in the United States alone affects 9 out ten LGBT teens, all to often leading to depression, dropping out of school, or suicide, according to a recent GLSEN report.  Christopher Mangum, writing for The Advocate, quotes McKellen, “Being gay was a topic that was never mentioned when I was your age. We had not really invented the word gay — at school I used to be called Oscar, after Oscar Wilde,” the famed actor told an audience of 200 students at Severn Vale School in Quedgeley, England this past weekend. “So to come back to school for the first time in 50 years and see this is heartening, to see that as a nation we have so rapidly grown up.”  After an hour in a drama workshop, the 70-year-old said he was impressed with the play – which was performed in front of students from other schools – and was proud of the students for tackling issues around homophobic bullying in schools.  Coming out was a difficult process for everyone in Great Britain in his younger years, McKellen told the eager school children.  “When I was 29 it was illegal for me to make love,” he said.  “I had a boyfriend and we slept together but the law said that we should be in prison. It was very hard to walk out in the street and say to him don’t touch me or brush your hand against mine, there may be a police man around the corner.”  Speaking candidly at another recent venue, Sir Ian said, “The word ‘gay’ has become used as a derogatory term and this is something which education can help to resolve. Either that or we choose another word to describe ourselves. I rather like another G word – ‘glorious.'”  He reflected further on his own coming out process: “People come to know themselves at different times. I was 49 before I understood who I was. I think that if the world had been different when I was young, then I might have had the courage to come out sooner.”  According to his official website, Sir Ian came out in 1988 on a BBC Radio program criticizing the Thatcher government for repressive policies against LGBT people.  He became a courageous LGBT advocate, co-founding “Stonewall,” an organization that works for full LGBT justice and equality in the UK and around the world.

November 30, 2009 - Posted by | Bullying in schools, gay men, Hate Crime Statistics, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , ,

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