Actor Alan Cumming returns OBE for British Empire's 'toxicity'
Monday, January 30, 2023
On Friday, Scottish theatre and film actor and producer said how "the profited at the expense (and death) of indigenous peoples around the world" affected his decision to return the he received in 2009.
For his 58th birthday, the two-time LGBT community.announced on "the misgivings I have being associated with the toxicity of empire" outweighed the "great good" his receiving of the order represented for the
Cumming was bestowed the chivalric honour, which stands for 'Order of the British Empire', as part of Queen Elizabeth II's for his work as an actor and activist "for equal rights for the gay and lesbian community".
Made a US citizen in 2008, Cumming was an outspoken critic of the since-repealed Defense of Marriage Act that forbade federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy that prevented openly LGBT individuals from serving in the US Armed Forces.
At the time, he said: "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."
However, the laws' repeal and "conversations about the role of the monarchy" and legacy of British colonialism begun after Elizabeth II's death in September convinced him "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."
In the past, other celebrities have returned OBEs in protest of social issues: in 2020, Welsh actor announced he returned his received in 2009 over the "tortured history" between Wales and the UK. Musician returned his lesser MBE in 1969 over the UK's involvement in the and support for the US in .
Cumming's film credits includeand the trilogy. He received his Tony Awards for producing the musical (2022) and appearing in (1998).
In 2019, he expressed his pride in his work on the television serieswhere he was in the star role of the first US network drama to have a gay lead character. Posting on Instagram, he remembered the show, which was cancelled after two series, for being where "millions of people will have seen a same-sex marriage portrayed for the first time".
- "US Supreme Court rules Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional" — Wikinews, June 27, 2013
- "Obama signs landmark law overturning 'don't ask, don't tell'" — Wikinews, December 23, 2010
- Helen Bushby. "Alan Cumming: Actor and US Traitors host hands back OBE over 'toxicity of empire'" — , January 27, 2023
- "Actor Alan Cumming gives back his OBE award over 'toxicity of empire'" — , January 27, 2023
- Tim Jonze. "Alan Cumming hands back his OBE citing the 'toxicity of empire'" — , January 27, 2023
- "Alan Cumming gives back OBE over links to 'toxic' British Empire" — , January 27, 2023
- "Alan Cumming 'relished' gay lead role in US show" — , August 22, 2019