Ian McKellen Creates Video Message to Gays in Singapore

Indignation, Singapore’s LGBT Pride festival, has begun (not without controversy, as noted below) and has received words of support (above) from Sir Ian McKellen, who has been in the country performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s world tour of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” and Chekhov’s “The Seagull”. Since arriving in Singapore, McKellen has been vocal about the country’s repressive laws criminalizing homosexuality.

On their website, organizers note that McKellen also got the taste of gay culture and nightlife he was looking for while visiting: “In his free time, he popped into Mox, a gay bar, and spent an evening at Powerhouse on its regular Sunday gay night. He also caught a matinee performance of Alfian Sa’at’s play “Asian Boys Vol 3 – Happy Endings”, staged by Wild Rice Theatre. Before he left, he took up People Like Us’ request to make a short video.”

McKellen’s message: “Hello, this is Ian McKellen. I’m speaking to you from Singapore where I’ve had the most wonderful time with the Royal Shakespeare Company working at the Esplanade Theatre for the Singapore Repertory Theatre. I knew very little about Singapore until I came here and I was immediately encaptured by the beauty of the place, the old buildings as well as the new, the old culture and the new, and the people, who were unfailingly friendly and helpful at every turn. And of course, being openly gay, I managed to meet a lot of gay people…

…And then we come to the one thing I don’t like about Singapore, which is 377A. You know that law. It’s a British law, and why the hell you’ve not got rid of it, I’m not quite sure. Well, I am sure, because it’s taken us a long time in the United Kingdom and the rest of the world to deal with these old problems, these ancient attitudes which need to be removed if we’re going to be part of the 21st Century. So it’s very important that gay people, wherever they are, should identify themselves, stick up for themselves, represent themselves, modestly and positively, so the rest of the world knows that we’re here and we’re not going to go away. And we’re happy to be here…

…And that’s why Indignation is so important. Have a wonderful time. I congratulate the organisers and I hope it’s a step, certainly in the right direction, but a positive step towards one day getting rid of 377A. And you know I’m on your side, and I send you all my love. Bye Bye.”

In mid-July he spoke out on a radio show: “Just treat us with respect like we treat everybody else and the world will be a better place, I think. Coming to Singapore where unfortunately you’ve still got those dreadful laws that we British left behind… it’s about time Singapore grew up, I think, and realised that gay people are here to stay.”

Ian McKellen Takes Activism, with Theatre, to Singapore [tr]
Repressed Singapore Tells Ian McKellen: Don’t Get Naked [tr]