Ian McKellen Gets Choked Up Reading Emotional Coming Out Letter

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No one can ever accuse Sir Ian McKellen of not being expressive.

During a Letters Live seminar in London, the 76-year-old read a coming out letter from Armistead Maupin’s More Tales of the City set in 1970s San Francisco. In the book, one of the characters writes a moving letter to his mother who has joined the “Save Our Children” campaign, a conservative organization spearheaded by anti-gay activist Anita Bryant.

“I never needed saving from anything,” Ian read. “Except the cruel and ignorant piety of people like Anita Bryant. I’m sorry, Mama, not for what I am, but for how you must feel at this moment. I know what that feeling is, for I felt it for most of my life: revulsion, shame, disbelief — rejection through fear of something I knew, even as a child, was as basic to my nature as the color of my eyes.”

The letter also touches on San Francisco’s culture of acceptance. “San Francisco is full of people both straight and gay that don’t consider sexuality in measuring the worth of a human being,” he read. “They aren’t radicals or weirdos, Mama. They are shop clerks and bankers and little old ladies and people who nod and smile to you when you meet them on the bus. Their attitude is neither patronizing nor pitying. And their message is so simple: Yes, you are a person. Yes, I like you. Yes, it’s all right for you to like me, too.”

The Lord of the Rings star tears up as he concludes the letter: “If you and Papa are responsible for the way I am, then I thank you with all my heart, for it’s the light and the joy of my life.”

McKellen, who has been open about his own sexuality, spoke candidly on Anderson Live in 2012 about the importance of coming out. Check out the video to hear what he said, and tune in to The Insider With Yahoo on TV tonight for the latest in entertainment news.