Ian McKellen (Walter McBride/WireImage)
The "Lord of the Rings" icon joined forces with 27 laureates in writing an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin sharing their opposition to a new law that prohibits "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors."
The move was meant to indicate "that many senior members of the international scientific community show solidarity with politicians, artists, sports people and many others who have already expressed their abhorrence for the Russian Government's actions against its gay citizens."
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The 74-year-old actor signed his name with the awesome note "aka Gandalf/Henry V" alongside some of the great thinkers of our time including author J.M. Coetzee, physicist Martin Perl, and chemist Harry Kroto.
For his part, McKellen wrote, "I have been warned by the UK Foreign Office that in Russia I could not speak openly about my sexuality, at least in the hearing of anyone under the age of 18." That seems like a hard condition to control. "I have therefore felt that I had to turn down invitations to attend Russian film festivals," he lamented.
This isn't the first time the star has spoken out against the implementation of this recent policy. He took to Facebook to express his initial disappointment that the Sochi Olympics would be taking place as scheduled, despite gay athletes being "only welcome if they bring their closets with them."
And while this fight is far from over, the movement against the law is garnering many supporters — in Hollywood at least (if not in Russia). Last August, "Prison Break" star Wentworth Miller came out as gay, and subsequently declined an invitation to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival. Not to mention, Madonna, Jonah Hill, and Kristen Bell all posted snapshots of themselves in the Human Rights Campaign's t-shirts that feature the phrase "Love Conquers Hate" in Russian.
Brian Boitano and Wentworth Miller (FilmMagic/WireImage)
Last, but not least, Olympic figure skating champion Brian Boitano came out as gay a mere two days after he was named to the U.S. delegation for Sochi. Other openly gay athletes on this delegation include tennis great Billie Jean King and ice hockey player Caitlin Cahow. It's probably worth mentioning that Barack Obama was responsible for selecting this committee — so, in his own way, he's speaking up too.
Only time will tell whether international pressure is able to move the needle on this Russian law, but in the meantime, it seems for this journey, Gandalf won't have to go it alone.
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