This month Ian McKellen performs his A cling .S'Iiukespt’ure show in (ilasgow and Iidinburgh. A recurring part of his repertoire over the past decade. the one-man event has played to sell-out audiences across the globe and is designed to convey both McKcllen's ‘sense of inner enthusiasm‘ for Shakespeare and the Bard‘s ‘fascination with the whole business of acting being very central to human nature‘. A potpourri of commentary and illuminating moments from the likes of .lluclwrlr. Romeo tlllt/Jll/f(’l and Hum/e1. it promises an evening of fun and theatricality. More important however is the life it has assumed as a vehicle to raise both funds and consciousness in the continuing battle against AIDS. All of the money collected at the box—office. ‘with the exception of VAT". will be donated to Scottish organisations involved in the care and treatment of people suffering from the virus. Performances in the West [find to benefit the AIDS hospice London Lighthouse have already garnered half a million pounds.

McKellcn's exhausting fund-raising activities across the country are just one strand of a massive commitment on his part to involve himself body and soul in the vital issues currently affecting the gay community and of import to all members of a concerned society. Iiarlier this year he began giving press interviews to announce and affirm his homosexuality and since then has become an articulate and vocal campaigner against the bigot's charter to ban the use ofstatc funds to promote homosexuality.

If the advent of (‘lause 2728/29 has provided one small shred of consolation it must be in the way in which it has served to mobilise the traditionally docile gay community in Britain. (iays and lesbians have united in unprecedented numbers to express their homosexuality. defend their basic civil rights and publically resist any legislative intolerance towards minorities. McKellen is perhaps the most famous illustration of a process that has affected many of us. ‘I came back from the States after over a year away wondering quite what I was going to do in Britain.‘ he explains.‘ Anyone who has lived away from home that long can expect to have a bit of a shock when he comes back; people have died. people have changed. ()ne of the big developments was the awareness of AIDS. Also. the government had won its third term ofoffice. Then Clause 28 came up and I can‘t


To open our coverage of the second halfofGlasgow’s

three-week festival, Allan Hunter talks to Ian McKellen, who gives a new meaning to the word active. His show Acting Shakespeare is a one-man act to raise money for AIDS. Now it visits Mayfest then Edinburgh.

imagine that being introduced in the England of 18 months or 2 years ago. I‘d always been rather doubtful about gay activism. I thought. from my own point of view. it seemed rather hysterical and irrelevant and for other people. not for me. It happened that I had time to get involved in the issues of AIDS and Clause 28 because I wasn't actually doing anything else. Once I started working it seemed impractical to avoid saying any longer that I was gay myself. I guess it was likely that twenty years after the not considerable relaxation of laws on homosexuals that there might well be a swing against it. But with so many people. and I‘m one ofthem who‘s been involved properly for the

first time; coming out. marching and talking they must collectively be pushing the pendulum in the other direction. I think. very soon. the perpetrators of this Clause are going to see themselves as absolutely stranded from the mainstream.‘ Now that the Clause is about to become law. McKellen feels that the best course of action is continual and persistent vigilance as to its applications and interpretation. ‘You can interpret this law extremely widely. which is what we have all been pointing out. or you can interpret it very narrowly. It is the duty of politicians to apply it very narrowly indeed and continue to finance gay and lesbian groups who may indeed have a charter declaring

their intention that they are going to promote homosexuality but. in giving them money. and this is the crux. the local authority itself is not intentionally promoting homosexuality but is providing the minority within their jurisdiction a grant to get on with and add to the richness of life within the borough. At the moment one can see that people are frightened of the law. are taking advantage of it and hiding behind it; you don't have to be homophobic to approve of this law.‘ McKellen readily admits that his very recent decision to openly commit himself to gay activism may make him an innocent novice with a suspect sense of fine judgement. However. the evidence of his actions is proofpositive of his invaluable contribution to the process of standingup and being counted. He has spoken out at the nationally televised Olivier Awards. marched in Manchester. persuaded colleagues like .lohn (iielgud and Judi Dench to add their voices to the anti-(‘lause chorus. and will join in the Lesbian and (iay Solidarity Festival in Edinburgh on May 28. His involvement has convinced him that ‘there are terrible times ahead’ but he remains the type of optimist who believes that the best form of defence is attack. I think we should be drawing up. with confidence. a list ofchanges in the law which we would like to achieve in the very near future

N Mean City? Glasgow from theatre

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The List 13 26 May 198811