Sir Ian discusses gay issues with pupils

AWARD-winning theatrical knight Sir Ian McKellen was in Suffolk yesterday talking to sixth form drama students at Sudbury Upper School about gay issues for short film they are planning to make for a competition.

Andrew Clarke

AWARD-winning theatrical knight Sir Ian McKellen was in Suffolk yesterday talking to sixth form drama students at Sudbury Upper School about gay issues for short film they are planning to make for film competition.

Sir Ian was at the special arts school in west Suffolk to talk to sixth formers about homophobic bullying and gay stererotypes.

He spent more than two hours at the school, taking a Year 12 assembly, talking to students about prejudice and working with drama and media students on the outline for their proposed film.


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He said that the representation of gays in the media was not always a helpful guide: “The idea of camp can be misleading. I have to confess that I am little disquieted at times by the way that gays are portrayed, particularly on television. Something like Little Britain is not particularly helpful. I know Matt Lucas will say that he is gay and it is not offensive but I don't think it gets the right message across.

“If you are gay you don't have to be camp. Also the word gay has become used as a derogatory term and this is something which education can help to resolve. Either that or we choose another word to describe ourselves. I rather like another G word - glorious.”

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The visit to Sudbury Upper School was organised by leading gay charity Stonewall, which is also running the short film competition about tackling gay prejudice in school and society.

Lesley Turner, assistant head, said: “The film project team had a wonderful discussion with him and it wasn't a case of Sir Ian delivering a lecture, it was a real conversation between the students and him, which covered a lot of ground and provided them with a lot to think about when it comes to creating the film.”

Sir Ian said: “It's lovely to be invited into such a forward-thinking school. It's wonderful to talk to these young people and have a proper conversation with them about important issues such as gay prejudice and homophobic bullying and using film and drama as a means of countering it.

“I think it will be easier for young people to understand themselves, particularly thanks to schools like Sudbury. People come to know themselves at different times. I was 49 before I understood who I was. I think if the world was different when I was young, then I may have had the courage to come out sooner.”

Later Sir Ian went on to talk to students at Farlingaye High School in Woodbridge.

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