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]


  1. says

    Ian McKellen never shuts up, does he? It’s brilliant. He is willing to go to another country and challenge their perceptions because, as he says, everyone deserves to be treated with basic respect.

    Every closeted actor must envy him.

  2. strepsi says

    Love, love, love him. A class act.

    And who would’ve thunk he’d have starred in2 of the largest action franchises in movie history?

    Gandalf Magneto, the Great gay Silver Fox!

  3. anon says

    Also ian is supposedly really nice. Not many celebs can have the same said about them. People always rave how easy it is to walk up to and meet Ian walking down the street and that he loves to chat with fans.

  4. anon says

    Michael RIGHT ON!!! I never even thought about Ian as Dumbledore but you are so right on. Ian would have made a great replacement for Harris passed.

    I am posting while takign a momentray break from reading deathly Hollows right this moment. 2 thumbs up

  5. Joshua says

    He’s a good actor. But as a person he sucks. He’s NOT a nice person, he’s an old bitchy, back stabbing Queen.
    While I applaud his efforts for Gays since coming out after 45 years in the closet, like so many of you here when other actors come out, I question his efforts prior to the fact.
    His career was solid 40 years ago and he could have come out then but chose to stay in the closet and did his best to undermine other actors who were Gay, some of whom were out.
    More power to him in his new found endevors as a Gay spokesman….maybe if he lives another 20 years the good he now does will make up for the damage he did in the prior 40 years.

  6. Oscar says

    It is incredible how stupid people in Singapore are. They want to be free of colonialism but keep laws like 377A in their books that only show that they are still a colony of England in their minds. They are still enslaved by the colonial mentality.Poor, poor people. These kind of laws did not existed in Singapore before the english came. Is the mental colonial yoke so difficult to break that not only in Singapore but all about in the Old English Empire the former colonies in Africa and in the Americas still bend their heads to the old colonial english laws?. Pity these people has so weak personalities that cannot break away from old passe idiologies. It simply shows their lack of resolve and backbone. Pity, pity, pity.

  7. Inquiring Minds says

    yeah, Joshua, what is the real story? it does strike me as odd that we only hear about out and proud Ian now that he’s a hundred years old….what did happen back in the good ol’ days?…anyone?

  8. ALAN says

    I met Sir Ian when he was in Singapore and he was the most wonderful person. Witty, humble, warm and caring. I doubt that he is flawless (who is) but he was unfailingly generous to everyone here in Singapore and has proved himself a true champion for going out of his way to take a stand on gay rights here.
    Michael W, unless Sir Ian has personally hurt you, I’d suggest that you take a good hard look at who the real bitchy, back-stabing queen is. Yes he took 40 years to come out. But think of the climate in those 1st 40 years of his life. And anyway, that isn’t even the point. That is his personal business. What matters is what he has done since for the gay community. Which has been nothing short of inspiring. Thnak you Sir Ian.

  9. db says

    I’ve never heard anything negative about Sir Ian from before or after he came out. If Joshua has information he should make it explicit–otherwise it just comes off as bitter craziness from anonymous people on an internet chat board–hardly a reliable sourse.

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