Sir Ian McKellen: 'Peter Tatchell is my hero'

Posted Oct 16, 2010 by Mathew Wace Peck
In a new video, the Shakesperean and Hollywood actor, Sir Ian McKellen, has spoken of his strong support for Peter Tatchell, the UK-based Australian-born human-rights campaigner.
Peter Tatchell and Sir Ian McKellen  at the unveiling of a blue plaque in Tatchell s honour
Peter Tatchell and Sir Ian McKellen, at the unveiling of a blue plaque in Tatchell's honour
Chris Houston
The video has been released by OutRage! – the British gay-rights campaigning organisation that Tatchell helped to form two decades ago – and shows last month's unveiling ceremony of a blue plaque, which has been erected outside Tatchell's home in Southwark, London.
Sir Ian spoke at the unveiling ceremony, and referred to Tatchell as "my hero". An extract of the actor's speech was reported by BBC News:
"We're very lucky to have Peter with us – what he asks for is no more or less than freedom, and I couldn't be a stronger supporter of him.
"He's my hero, and to honour heroes is a good thing to do.
"It's absolutely sensational that there is a blue plaque here."
As can be seen in the short film, Sir Ian then went on to say:
As an actor, I admire the chutzpah and showbiz nature of Peter's campaigning. It is absolutely sensational that there is a plaque here.
We don't have the energy, far-sightedness and bravery of this individual. If we did, the world would be a better place. I couldn't be a stronger supporter of him.
In his reply, Tatchell – who was obviously pleased with the reception he received – said: "It is a great honour. I blushed. I want to express my extreme gratitude. I am gratified but a little embarrassed. You usually get a plaque when you're dead but I'm very much alive."
He then went on to thank his supporters – who had nominated him for the blue plaque – saying, "The greatest honour has been to work with so many brave activists here and around the world."
Also present at the unveiling ceremony was the Liberal Democrat MP for Bermondsey, Simon Hughes. Hughes won the parliamentary seat in 1983 after campaigning against Tatchell, who was the official Labour candidate.
Tatchell has been campaigning for LGBT and human rights since the 1970s. He has also written or contributed to over 20 books, including, The Battle for Bermondsey, Democratic Defence, Europe in the Pink – Lesbian & Gay Equality in The New Europe and We Don't Want to March Straight: Masculinity, Queers and the Military. Over the same period, he has authored more than 3,000 published articles, including for the Guardian newspaper and for the Pink Triangle Trust's Gay & Lesbian Humanist.
In 2009, Tatchell was named "Campaigner of the Year" at the Observer Ethical Awards.