Ian McKellen Just Made a Powerful Point About #OscarsSoWhite

January 25th 2016

Laura Donovan

Sir Ian McKellen, who has been nominated for two Academy Awards, has responded to the heated #OscarsSoWhite debate by saying that gay people are also overlooked in the film industry.

Speaking to Sky News, the openly gay actor and co-founder of LGBT rights group Stonewall said that he understands the anger behind #OscarsSoWhite but wants to relay that the gay community has also been treated poorly in the entertainment business.

"As a representative of the industry they're in, it's receiving complaints which I fully sympathize with," McKellen said. "It's not only black people who've been disregarded by the film industry, it used to be women, it's certainly gay people to this day. And these are all legitimate complaints and the Oscars are the focus of those complaints of course."

Sir Ian McKellen

Many were outraged this year that the film "Carol," which is about two female lovers in the 1950s, was not nominated for Best Picture. The LGBT community also expressed frustration over the fact that the indie transgender film, "Tangerine" was snubbed this year, as noted by The Huffington Post.

Following the 2016 Oscar nomination announcements, A.V. Club writer Nico Lang argued that it seems gay characters in film must die for the Academy to fully give the movie the attention it deserves. Lang added that "Carol" may have been overlooked because its main characters didn't have to die or be killed for their love.

"The stories of LGBT people can be important teachable moments in our nation’s ongoing struggle for equality, but the issue is that awards groups like the Oscars only tend to recognize a single story—in which queer people are being sacrificed for our sins," Lang wrote. "The simple act of loving someone and being loved in return might not win Oscars, but these everyday acts of courage made an entire generation of LGBT victories possible. Carol and Therese didn’t have to die for their lives to have purpose; they were meaningful because they lived."

The Academy's diversity push.

McKellen's comments about #OscarsSoWhite come a few days after the Academy vowed to make its voting members "significantly more diverse" within the next four years. The Academy said its goal is to double the number of women and diverse members by 2020. Prior to announcing this change, the Academy was widely criticized for once again shunning people of color in its acting nominations, prompting others to share #OscarsSoWhite on social media.

Many famous people have come forward with their thoughts on #OscarsSoWhite. Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith and director Spike Lee publicly condemned the Academy for eschewing people of color in nominations, and acting nominees Brie Larson and Mark Ruffalo also said that the conversation surrounding #OscarsSoWhite is necessary and important. Best Actress nominee Charlotte Rampling made headlines last week when she said that #OscarsSoWhite was "racist" against whites.

RELATED: Academy Award Nominees Speak out on #OscarsSoWhite