British playwright Alan Bennett has revealed how he guarded his sexuality for the majority of his career, saying he didn’t want to be labelled as gay.
The writer of The History Boys and The Madness of George III said he wanted to be his ‘own man’ and keep his personal life private.
‘My objection about people knowing more about one’s private life was that I didn’t want to be put in a pigeonhole,’ he said, in a celebration of his career on a his regrets of not being more open about his sexuality earlier.
Famously, actor Sir Ian McKellen once asked him whether he was gay or straight at an AIDS benefit.
Bennett then exclaimed: ‘That’s a bit like asking a man crawling across the Sahara whether he would prefer Perrier or Malvern water.’
But now, he says, looking back at his life, the things he will remember are the things he didn’t do.
‘A lot of that will be to do with sex, I suppose,’ he said.
‘It’s in my nature to feel somehow that one has missed out. It’s my view of my own life except that I’ve been very, very lucky.
‘I met my partner quite late in life and so the last part of my life is much happier than the first part.’
The interview will be broadcast on BBC Four on Saturday (10 May).