Before becoming an after dinner speaker, Ian was respected as a British cultural icon after receiving every major theatrical award in the UK and having performed in every genre from Shakespearean theatre to featuring in popular films and science fiction. He is best known for his appearances as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, as well as his role in the X-Men films.
Ian has been appointed as CBE, achieved Knighthood for his services to performing arts and a Companion of Honour for his efforts to drama and to equality. Openly gay since 1988, Ian is also a highly respected member of the LGBT Social Movements worldwide.
Since coming out on a live programme on BBC Radio 3 in protest against Section 28, McKellen has campaigned for equality for the LGBT community through various methods. He is the co-founder of Stonewall, patron of LGBT History Month, Pride London, Oxford Pride, GAY-GLOS, The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, The Albert Kennedy Trust and FFLAG. He has also internationally spoken about his homosexuality, freely speaking about being gay on a Singapore radio station which caused a commotion. All his contributions to the community have led him to be named one of the top ten on the World Pride Power List.
On top of all his efforts to LGBT members, Ian has also given a lot of his time to charity. He has made appearances in advertisements for Age UK and umpired a charity cricket match in aid of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. A cause in which he also formed a theatre tour Shakespeare, Tolkien and You! in order to raise money for the Isaac Theatre Royal, a well-loved building which was massively affected by the quake.
Ian McKellen has an admirable attitude towards gaining equality, he is not afraid to speak his mind to get his point across and fight for what he believes in.