Sir Ian McKellen commemorated the 30th anniversary of his publicly coming out with a statement on the power of being open about who you are.
“I’ve never met a gay person who who regretted coming out — including myself,” the renowned actor wrote on Twitter. “Life at last begins to make sense, when you are open and honest.”
The 78-year-old English actor, who is an LGBTQ activist and founder of Stonewall UK, has previously talked about growing up in a time when being gay was illegal and highly stigmatized.
“Gay people, homosexuals, conducted their lives as secretly as possible,” he said in a short film earlier this year. “There was nobody who was out ― nobody.”
McKellen addressed his sexuality to the media in 1988, at the age of 49. It happened during a discussion over legislation that made “promoting homosexuality” in schools illegal.
“I was so appalled by this when I heard of it, I joined in groups vocally explaining why this was an unjust law, and in a debate on BBC radio, I came out and said I was gay,” he told ET Online.
His public announcement then came during the AIDS crisis — a time of extreme stigma and prejudice against gay men.
McKellen has said many times that he regrets not coming out publicly sooner.
“What happened immediately, according to friends, is I became not just a happier person, but a better actor,” he told HuffPost in 2015. “I think up to that point, I had been using acting as a disguise — somewhere where I could express my emotions, and draw attention to myself in a way that I didn’t particularly want to do in real life. Acting became not about disguise, but about telling the truth.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated McKellen is 77. He’s 78.