Alan Cumming has handed back his OBE and the reason he has given has got some right wingers very angry.
The Scottish actor was awarded the gong in 2009 as he featured on the Queen’s birthday honours list, for his activism on equal rights for the gay and lesbian communities in America.
Cummings said although he had been “grateful”, his eyes were now “opened” over “the toxicity of empire”.
He wrote on Instagram: “Today is my 58th birthday and I want to tell you about something I recently did for myself.
I returned my OBE.
Fourteen years ago, I was incredibly grateful to receive it in the 2009 Queen’s birthday honours list, for it was awarded not just for my job as an actor but ‘for activism for equal rights for the gay and lesbian community, USA’. Back then the Defence of Marriage Act ensured that same sex couples couldn’t get married or enjoy the same basic legal rights as straight people, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell ensured that openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people were barred from serving in the military. (Incidentally both these policies were instituted by the Clinton administration).
This is the statement I made at the time:
‘I am really shocked and delighted to receive this honour. I am especially happy to be honoured for my activism as much as for my work.
The fight for equality for the LGBT community in the US is something I am very passionate about, and I see this honour as encouragement to go on fighting for what I believe is right and for what I take for granted as a UK citizen. Thank you to the Queen and those who make up her Birthday honours list for bringing attention to the inaction of the US government on this issue. It makes me very proud to be British, and galvanised as an American’.
The Queen’s death and the ensuing conversations about the role of monarchy and especially the way the British Empire profited at the expense (and death) of indigenous peoples across the world really opened my eyes. Also, thankfully, times and laws in the US have changed, and the great good the award brought to the LGBTQ+ cause back in 2009 is now less potent than the misgivings I have being associated with the toxicity of empire (OBE stands for Officer of the British Empire).
So I returned my award, explained my reasons and reiterated my great gratitude for being given it in the first place. I’m now back to being plain old Alan Cumming again.
Happy birthday to me!
Some people loved it…
This seems to be correct…
Others were not happy, at all!
This is charming…