Words: Steve Brown
Sir Ian McKellen has joined forces with the LGBT Foundation to help launch a new project to support LGBTQ people over the age of 50.
The openly gay actor – who is best known for starring as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy – has been a pioneer for LGBTQ rights since he came out in 1988 and helped co-found Stonewall UK.
And now the actor – who recently turned 80 – is continuing his activism work and has given his approval to a new Pride in Ageing programme.
He says: "No one is born with prejudice, it’s something you learn.
"Growing up, even in Lancashire, what is now Greater Manchester, 70 years ago, it was a total silence.
"There was no mention of sexuality other than heterosexuality at school, on the radio, in church.
"Absolute silence. So is it any wonder that people who are older, when things are hazy, they may think back to a time when things were different?
"Waving the banner for full and total equality, and love, is something that has my total support.”
Paul Martin OBE, Chief Executive of LGBT Foundation, added: “We’re incredibly grateful to Sir Ian for launching this incredibly important new initiative.
"We know that LGBT people over 50 are at a much higher risk of isolation and are under-recognised in health and social care services, and may be facing discrimination due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
"We believe that all LGBT people over 50 have the right to an excellent quality of life in later years, and look forward to working to end the many inequalities that LGBT in mid-to-later life face.”
The new scheme will help bring an end to inequalities faced by LGBTQ over the age of 50 in the Greater Manchester area to make sure they have access to inclusive housing and care later in life.
It will also tackle the social isolation faced by LGBTQ people over 50 in the entire UK.