Ian McKellen had trouble making it through this powerful coming-out letter.

Sir Ian McKellen read a powerful letter we should all hear.

Sir Ian McKellen has been out and proud as a gay man for quite some time.

In that time, the actor has said and done a lot of cool things for the LGBTQ community. He's fought discrimination in the U.K., for example, and has been a voice of encouragement to young folks still in the closet. More recently, he pointed out that the Oscars don't just have a racial diversity problem — they lack queer representation, too.


Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images.

So it's no surprise to learn that a moving coming-out letter would tug at McKellen's heartstrings. Luckily for us, the beautiful moment was captured on film.

During a Letters Live event, where artists read powerful literary letters in front of live audiences, McKellen read a coming-out letter from book series "Tales of the City" by Armistead Maupin.

The letter is by a character named Michael Tolliver, who lives in San Francisco in the 1970s, and is writing home to his mother. McKellen had some trouble making it through with a dry eye.

In the novel, Tolliver has learned that his parents support anti-LGBT efforts from notoriously homophobic activist Anita Bryant (Bryant's work, unfortunately, is nonfiction).

So Tolliver takes a bold step and decides to tell his parents about his sexual orientation.

GIFs via Letters Live/The Independent.

Tolliver doesn't make apologies for who he is. But he understands what his mother must be feeling.


When Tolliver thanks his parents for making him the way he is — even if it's not what they intended, McKellen fought back tears as the letter hit close to home.

The whole letter is definitely worth reading if you have a minute.

The letter may have been written during a different time. But even with all the progress we've made, it contains a message that still resonates.

We've come a long way in queer acceptance. In the U.S., a clear majority of people now support same-sex marriage. And those who don't are on the wrong side of history, as marriage equality is now the law across the country. Awareness of issues that specifically affect LGBTQ people, such as bullying, are at the forefront of America's consciousness in many ways.

Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images.

But the voices of oppression are still strong. We have presidential candidates who want to reverse marriage equality. You can still be fired for being gay in many states. And the harmful practice of homophobic conversion therapy is legal in much of the U.S.

We still live in a time where coming out can be brutal. That's why the letter is likely touching many more hearts than just McKellen's.

Everyone who comes out has a different story to tell. For some, walking out of the closet is a breeze. For others, it means risking ending lifelong relationships with family and friends.

McKellen's moving reading is a great reminder that — yes, even in 2016 — there's still so much more work to be done. But it's best we do it with empathy in our hearts.

Watch McKellen's reading of the letter below:

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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