[UPDATE: Ian McKellen has clarified and apologized for his original comments. Read on for more.]
Ian McKellen has said that the fear of coming out is to blame for Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer’s alleged sexual abuse. Though the distinguished 79-year old actor’s substantial resume continues to grow, it was his role as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films that endeared him to a new generation. Now, he's given his opinion on a very sensitive subject.
Throughout Hollywood’s ongoing issues with sexual assault claims, McKellen, like most public figures not associated with the cases, has kept quiet on the topic. However, two of the bigger cases currently being examined - those of Kevin Spacey and X-Men director Bryan Singer - have now found their way into statements made by McKellen. At present, Spacey is the only one of the two men who has been formally charged with sexual assault, while Singer still has pending lawsuits regarding claims he was one of several men who raped, physically abused, and threatened a host of teenage boys at house parties roughly 15 years ago.
It was during a live recording of the #QueerAF podcast that McKellen made his opinion on the cases of both Spacey and Singer known. According to USA Today, the interview took place during the UK’s National Student Pride 2019 event. McKellen initially pointed out that neither Spacey nor Singer were out of the closet when the claimed offenses took place, then went on to explain his views, saying:
"Most of them were in the closet. Hence, all their problems as people and their relationship with other people. If they had been able to be open about themselves and their desires, they wouldn’t have started abusing people in the way they’ve been accused."
McKellen also briefly explored the issue of whether or not celebrities accused of sexual misconduct should continue to have careers. Calling the issue “debatable," he said:
"I think that's rather up to the public. Do you want to see someone who's been accused of something that you don't approve of? Do you ever want to see them again? If the answer is no, you won't buy a ticket, you won't turn on the television. But there may be others for whom that's not a consideration."
In the midst of the celebrity sexual misconduct claims and scandals that now seem to be a regular occurrence, McKellen’s words will undoubtedly be analyzed by many. McKellen has never been known as a controversial figure throughout his illustrious career, but expressing an opinion on these ongoing scandals and allegations opens the door for potential criticism.
Issues such as these are incredibly difficult for those on the outside to discuss. All too often, tempers flare and regrettable statements are made when the public attempts to dissect very private matters. Though numerous positions will be taken over McKellen’s comments, the heart of the issue here is that any attempt to justify claims of sexual misconduct are never going to end well. There is no doubt that the LGBTQ community faces ongoing hardships, but in the coming days, McKellen may discover that paring those hardships with hefty sexual misconduct claims is problematic for many.
UPDATE: McKellen has issued an apology for his previous comments (per ET):
“As part of an extended podcast recently, I suggested that if closeted people were instead open about their sexuality they wouldn’t abuse others. That, of course, is wrong. My intention was to encourage the LGBT audience I was addressing to be proud and open about their sexuality. In doing so, my point was clumsily expressed. I would never, ever trivialize or condone abuse of any kind. I deeply regret my careless remarks and apologize unreservedly for any distress I caused.”
Source: USA Today
Update Source: ET