Ian McKellen Wants ‘the Only Gay in the Village’ to Tone It Down

DaffydIn a talk to students at Sudbury Upper School in the UK, actor Ian McKellen expressed his dissatisfaction with flamboyant portrayals of gay men, and also the word gay.

 Said McKellen: "The idea of camp can be misleading. I have to confess that I am little disquieted at times by the way that gays are portrayed, particularly on television. Something like Little Britain is not particularly helpful. I know Matt Lucas will say that he is gay and it is not offensive but I don't think it gets the right message across. If you are gay you don't have to be camp. Also 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."


  1. Guy from DC says

    Isn’t he missing the joke of the “Only gay”? All of these Little Britain segments end with the character encountering that he in fact isn’t the only gay and that other gay men and lesbians are happily living their lives among the other residents in the village…I think that the Lucas character ALSO is poking fun at the idea that gays need to be separate and totally campy. So Ian McKellen is criticizing something that actually is making a similar point to the argument that he’s trying to make.

  2. Dave says

    I agree with Guy From DC. The Daffyd Thomas character plays up the absurdity of the homosexual stereotype – challenging the viewers’ pre-conceived notions that homosexuals look or act differently. This is achieved by contrasting Daffyd’s absurdity with the normalcy of all the other gays and lesbians in his life. Were it not for them, I might be more concerned.

  3. says

    While I agree with Guy from DC on the concept of the show being comparable the the concept of McKellen’s argument, I think the issue is the normalization of “camp” as “gay” and, thus, marginalizing a community of people. Though, personally, I don’t think Ian McKellen is in any way someone to judge. He’s like the ginger in Modern Family who’s convinced he’s more butch than his partner.

    What bothers me about shit like this, especially from a not-so-straight-acting GLORIOUS man, is that it raises the question of tolerable effeminacy/”campy” homosexuality/flamboyance, when that sexist and homophobic question shouldn’t be asked in the first place. I want to know, according to Ian McKellen, what the right message, exactly, is.

    I do not understand why a man who said this — “I increasingly see organized religion as actually my enemy. They treat me as their enemy. Not all Christians, of course. Not all Jews, not all Muslims. But the leaders. . . . Why should I take the judgment of a declared celibate about my sexual needs? He’s basing his judgment on laws that would fit life in the Bronze Age. So if I’m lost to God, organized religion is to blame.” — can now feel that it is appropriate to cater to people who may get the wrong idea about glorious people after watching a campy show.

    A show should be taken for what it is in its context, and, I mean, you can’t have your Medeas without a glorious counterpart somewhere.

  4. J. Bocca says

    Omg that picture reminds me of this gay man I know in Astoria, his name is BAILEY ECKHARDT. hahaha.

  5. Derrick from Philly says


    you make TOO much sense.

    THe only gay guys I’ve met who were truly what most societies consider “traditionally masculine” were those who never think about it. (unfortunately for me, they tended not to be interested in fems…but that’s what streettrade was for…just be careful, darlins)

  6. corkystclair says

    I highly doubt that Ian McKellen “missed” the hilarious and sophisticated jokes on Little Britain.

    And I disagree with Jonbenet’s point that McKellen thinks he knows what message is more proper for gay people than anyone else. I think McKellen is saying that any particular stereotype of gay people is negative and not helpful, but the camp/flamboyant stereotype is so pervasive that it seems often to work the most damage. He would also probably say that more portrayals of all kinds of gay people are best, i.e., masculine, feminine, fat, old, hot.

    I think ultimately both Ian McKellen and Matt Lucas would agree that stereotypes in the media are harmful and negative, but there are various ways of approaching them. Ian McKellen was perhaps simply criticizing the way in which Matt Lucas expressed his ideas.

  7. says

    It is very true that camp does not equal gay. There are certainly gay people who are very campy, but there are just as assuredly plenty of straight people who are very campy, as well. Given that there are so many more straight than gay people, I wouldn’t be shocked to see that there are more campy/flamboyant straight people than gay people. No matter how many times that guy in my college drama club insisted he was straight and we all refused to believe it, he may have actually been telling the truth ;p

  8. psgoodguy says

    right. like Magneto wasn’t campy? this from a man who lived in the closet until it was safe to reveal his true self. internalized homophobia is the enemy, not matt lucas.

  9. Bryan says

    One of the most common forms of discrimination against LGBT occurs among LGBT people: the assumption that we as individuals are required to conform to some ridiculous ideal in order to serve as poster children for our entire community.

    Sadder still is the ludicrous idea that straight people will accept us if only we act just like them. It has, after all, worked so well for blacks and other minorities.

  10. Mick says

    He has a cheek – he was very camp and somewhat vulgar in my view on the Jonathan Ross show recently – hetrosexuals would not get away with being so sexual explicit, they would be regarded as rather perverted. This man and others like him do the gay community no favours in trying to receive equal rights form the wider community