For a long time people have compared the mutants of X-Men to the gay rights struggle – a group of people whose inborn difference separates them from society and who have to battle a society who are prejudiced against them just because of who they think they may be rather than who they actually are.
It’s something the X-Men movies haven’t shied away from, although while the first two films were directed by the gay Bryan Singer, the LGBT parallels were probably highest in the Bret Ratner helmed X-Men: The Last Stand. In that the mutants had to decide whether to accept a ‘cure’ to their powers or fight back and be proud of who they are. (Ironically Ratner has since been embroiled in accusations of homophobia.)
Now Ian McKellen has been talking about the links between the superheroes and all things gay. Buzzfeed quotes him as saying about how he first became involved in the movies as Megneto, “I was sold it by Bryan [Singer] who said, ‘Mutants are like gays. They’re cast out by society for no good reason… And, as in all civil rights movements, they have to decide: Are they going to take the Xavier [Patrick Stewart] line — which is to somehow assimilate and stand up for yourself and be proud of what you are, but get on with everybody — or are you going to take the alternative view [McKellen’s character’s] — which is, if necessary, use violence to stand up for your own rights. And that’s true. I’ve come across that division within the gay rights movement.”
McKellen believes it’s no surprise that, according to Marvel, young Jewish, Black, and gay people are the biggest readers of the X-Men comics. “These are all people who, well, feel a little bit like mutants,” he says.
As for whether it’s worth being out and proud, he says, “I feel sorry for anyone who feels the need to lie about themselves. That’s not good for you. It doesn’t lead to a happy life. And I’ve never met a gay person who came out and who regretted it. Never. So, my advice to anyone in the closet — it doesn’t matter whether they’re a teacher, or a politician, or a priest, or an actor — come out. Join the human race.”
He adds of his own life, “I often thought my gravestone would say, ‘Here lies Gandalf. He came out… Those are two of the proudest achievements that I’ve got. I think I’ve been a part of the rapid sensible movement towards an understanding that gay people are the same as the rest of you and should be treated equally by the law, by society.”