Often you hear how being an out actor is a hindrance and that it can affect movie role offers…but not every thespian feels that way and in fact feels there are benefits to being a gay actor. XMen and Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen discusses in a recent interview how being a gay actor provided an invaluable sense of self awareness that enhances acting ability:
“There was no Graham Norton on the television at that time, no gay MPs, no-one talking about gay rights on the radio. So I dealt with it my trying to cut that part of myself off, to hide myself, to choke a part of me,”
“When you are made to feel you are so wrong for being who you are, that’s what you do.
“I think that’s why so many great British actors are gay – we spent so long pretending to be straight, to be someone else, that eventually we became very good at it.”
After coming out in the 80s, McKellen wrote about how coming out helped his esteem and could possibly help give others a voice:
“I learned that coming out was crucial to self-esteem. And I accepted the argument that people who thrived in society’s mainstream and had access to the media could, by telling the truth, help others in the backwaters whose views were never sought and whom society either ignored or abused.
“An actor is more protected than most. These days I daily make this point to anyone who will listen because, when I eventually accepted it on the BBC, it changed my life forever for the better.”
Could it be true that this is what many actors feel like when they mask their sexuality? I think it makes sense that some would feel that way. But I’m sure they’re even happier when they don’t have to pretend to be someone else.