Artiste and gay icon Sir Ian Mckellen has been a champion for gay rights and the actor’s latest project is making sure that LGBT seniors are not left behind.
The British thespian has set up a new program, Pride in Aging, which will throw its support behind queer people over the age of 50.
“No one is born with prejudice, it’s something you learn,” McKellen said during the announcement.
“Growing up, even in Lancashire, what is now Greater Manchester, 70 years ago, it was a total silence. There was no mention of sexuality other than heterosexuality at school, on the radio, in church.
Absolute silence. So is it any wonder that people who are older, when things are hazy, they may think back to a time when things were different? Waving the banner for full and total equality, and love, is something that has my total support”.
Launching in partnership with UK-based LGBT Foundation, Mckellen’s new initiative is aimed at bringing an end to disparities in standards of living and social isolation of LGBTQ seniors in the UK. The program is meant to establish a community for queer people over the age of 50 while also providing healthcare and social services.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Sir Ian for launching this incredibly important new initiative,” said Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation.
“We know that LGBT people over 50 are at a much higher risk of isolation and are under-recognized in health and social care services, and may be facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. We believe that all LGBT people over 50 have the right to an excellent quality of life in later years, and look forward to working to end the many inequalities that LGBT in mid-to-later life face”.
The legendary star of the Lord of The Rings came out during a radio interview with BBC in 1988 at the age of 48. He did so to criticize Section 28, the British law condemning “promotion of homosexuality”, which was repealed in 2002. He is a founding member of the activist organization Stonewall.
“I’m very proud of my small contributions to changing the law in this country and changing attitudes, all for the better,” Mckellen said while promoting his documentary, Mckellen: Playing the Part.
“And I suppose in the scheme of things that is more important and the more merit and longer lasting than any acting that I have done”.