Ian McKellen on youth & labels: ‘Fluidity is the future’

Ian McKellen
Ian McKellen at the Manchester Pride Parade in 2010Photo: Man Alive! on Flickr (CC license 2.0)

Ian McKellen has declared “fluidity is the future,” drawing on his experiences speaking with young people while touring schools, campaigning against homophobia.

“I think the future is, as it was expressed to me by a couple of six form girls the other day, they don’t want labels,” McKellen told BBC Radio’s 4 Today. “They don’t want to be labeled lesbian, they don’t want to be labeled bisexual, they don’t want to be labeled anything. I am what I am, in the words of the popular song. Fluidity is the future. People will not be bound by the finger pointed at them, giving them a label.”

“They don’t want a label, and I think that’s terribly hopeful. I think the world will be changing beautifully, and people will be more relaxed and accepting. That’s what I pick up from schools,” he added.

McKellen came out as gay in 1988 during a BBC Radio debate with a conservative journalist.

On Kevin Spacey

McKellen was also asked his thoughts on the sexual misconduct allegations against Kevin Spacey.

He said that he believes in redemption, and when asked if he believed in it for him, he hesitated and said he “wouldn’t like to comment on that case,” noting there were “many accusations” but that they “have not really been gone into.”

“The only thing I would say about Mr. Spacey was that he was a gay man and he was pretending not to be, and I always thought it a bit distasteful that such a person would come to our country, where the [Royal] National Theatre at the time was being run by a gay man, and the Royal Shakespeare by another, and I think the Donmar [Warehouse], in London, by another gay man, that we should have a closeted gay man at the center of British theater seemed to be a bit unseemly,” McKellen said.

“You get into problems, don’t you, if you lie? If you pretend,” he concluded.

You can listen to the full interview (for a limited time) on the BBC’s website. McKellen’s segment begins shortly after the 2 hour, 30 minute mark.

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