Sir Ian McKellen believes "gay men are more masculine than straight men".
The 77-year-old star came out in 1988 and has been a prominent and outspoken champion of the LGBT community.
Despite being one of Britain's most celebrated actors, McKellen claims he is still occasionally subjected to homophobic abuse but he doesn't let it bother him because he knows he's a macho man because he prefers the company of guys.
Speaking to the new issue of ES Magazine, he said: "I think gay men are more masculine than straight men. Because, guess what? They love other men! So when bully boys say, 'F****!' you say, 'That's right, I'm with the boys.' "
McKellen gave his opinion in a joint interview with his great friend Sir Patrick Stewart - who he is about to star with in No Man's Land on London's West End.
The Lord of the Rings star considers Stewart - who is married to 37-year-old singer Sunny Ozell - to be his closest friend and admits he loves the 76-year-old thespian because they are so alike as people.
McKellen - who first met his fellow actor on the set of the original X-Men movie in 2000 - gushed: "What I love about Patrick is that he's so predictably myself. I think we are the same person. If Patrick comes into a rehearsal room and says, 'Look, look...' I know what it's going to be about."
Stewart reciprocated his pal's sentiments by saying: "I know that I'm in a love affair with Ian."
The legendary British thespians already acted out in the Broadway version of Harold Pinter's classic absurdist drama No Man's Land at The Cort Theatre, from 2013 to 2014, and they will be reunited on stage at London's Wyndham's theatre from September 8.
- Bang! Showbiz