Sir Ian McKellen: “Sports World Should be Ashamed of Itself”
Though Sir Ian McKellen is most notably known for his role as Gandalf in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, he is also an active gay rights activist. In 1989, he co-founded Stonewall, a UK-based LGBT rights organization. Stonewall aims to create a lobbying group to help prevent attacks on the LGBT community. He most recently served as grand marshal for Manchester’s 20th annual pride parade.
In a January 2010 interview on BBC Radio 5 with Tony Livesey, McKellen lashed out against the sports world for creating an environment where “macho men and strong women” athletes “go out and dedicate their lives, yet when it comes to simply being honest about who they are… become little shrinking violets.” He voiced equal disappointment with fans that never seem to show any support for potentially homosexual athletes
McKellen went on to say that footballers’ sexuality will not stop them from being fantastic at what they do, yet athletes are terrified to face the negative fan reactions.
The coming out of Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas, who hid his sexuality for many years due to the same fear, prompted McKellen to say that though the world at large is changing, “sport is very slow to catch up.”