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Alan Cumming Returns OBE Award in Protest at ‘Toxicity’ of British Empire

Author: CNN Wire

By Niamh Kennedy and Christian Edwards

(CNN) — Alan Cumming has returned a prestigious royal award in an effort to sever his association with the “toxicity” of the British Empire.

“Today is my 58th birthday and I want to tell you about something I recently did for myself. I returned my OBE,” the Scottish actor said in an Instagram post on Friday.

The Officer of the British Empire (OBE) award is given to individuals who make a positive impact in their field.

In the post, Cumming recounted how “fourteen years ago, [he] was incredibly grateful to receive it in the 2009 Queen’s birthday honours list.”

Cumming received the honor in recognition of his services to film, theater and the arts. His four-decade movie and TV career has included starring roles in “Annie,” “X-Men 2,” the “Spy Kids” franchise, and “The Good Wife.” In 1998, he won a Best Actor Tony award for his performance as the Emcee in the Broadway musical “Cabaret.”

The OBE also recognized his “activism for equal rights for the gay and lesbian community” in America.

Cumming, who is bisexual, has participated in a number of campaigns advocating for the equal rights of LGBT people, on behalf of organizations like the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

Despite feeling “shocked” and “delighted” at the time to receive the honor, Cumming described how the death of Queen Elizabeth last September made him reflect on the honor he had received — and the institution that bestowed it upon him.

“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,” the actor said.

He added that he was now grateful that the “times and laws in the US have changed,” referencing the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that prevented federal recognition of same sex marriages.

“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),” he added.

Cumming’s post comes amid a growing backlash against the monarchy for its role in British imperial history. In 2021, Barbados became the first country in nearly 20 years to cast off the Crown. The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda also announced in September plans to hold a referendum on whether to remove King Charles III as the head of state.

In December, the royal family was embroiled in a racism scandal, after Lady Susan Hussey, the Queen’s lady in waiting for more than 60 years, repeatedly asked a Black British charity boss where she was really “from.”

“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,” Cumming concluded.

“Happy birthday to me!”

The-CNN-Wire
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Related: Alan Cumming Receives OBE

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: CNN Wire

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My name is David but my online nick almost everywhere is Altabear. I'm a web developer, graphic artist and outspoken human rights (and by extension, mens rights) advocate. Married to my gorgeous husband for 12 years, together for 25 and living with our partner of 4 years, in beautiful Edmonton, Canada.

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