Ian McKellen apologizes for controversial comments about Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer

Ian McKellen apologizes for controversial comments about Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer

During a live recording of the podcast #QueerAF at the University of Westminster, actor Ian McKellen made controversial comments about accused sexual abusers Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer. "Most of them were in the closet. Hence, all their problems as people and their relationship with other people," he stated. "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." Then, when asked if the men should continue to work in Hollywood, McKellen, who starred in three of Singer's X-Men movies, said the answer was "debatable."

In October 2017, actor Anthony Rapp accused Kevin Spacey of making an unwanted sexual advance toward him in 1986, when he was 14. Spacey, who acted in American Beauty and House Of Cards, issued a statement where he claimed he could not remember the incident but apologized nonetheless. He also seized the moment to publicly come out as gay, prompting a furious backlash. Following Rapp's allegation, at least 14 other men came forward to accuse the 59-year-old of various kinds of misconduct. Most recently, Spacey is accused of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old at a Nantucket bar in July 2016, and pleaded not guilty.

Last January, The Atlantic released a bombshell report chronicling two decades of sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations against director Bryan Singer. Many of the alleged victims say they were underage at the time. Singer, who directed the Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody and four X-Men movies, has categorically denied the allegations. At the Academy Awards, the director was noticeably absent, and none of the Bohemian Rhapsody winners mentioned him in their speeches. Lead actor Rami Malek claims he was not aware of the allegations before making the Queen biopic.

Following the controversy, McKellen apologized. "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," said the 79-year-old. "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."

"When it comes to abuse by people in positions of power, the correct response is clear," he continued. "The accusers must be heard and the accused given the opportunity to clear their names. If the accusations prove credible, the abuser’s access to power should be removed."

McKellen came out as gay in 1988 and has been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights. "I have many regrets about not having come out earlier, but one of them might be that I didn't engage myself in the politicking," he stated in 1998. The actor went on to co-found the LGBTQ rights lobbying group Stonewall, named after the Stonewall riots.