Why Alan Cumming Returned British Award Bestowed Upon Him by Queen Elizabeth

Alan Cumming has revealed he recently returned an honor bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II.

On his 58th birthday on Friday, the Scottish actor took to Instagram to share that he gave back his Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) award, which he received in 2009.

Cumming posted two photos of himself, including a shot that featured him wearing his OBE medal.

“Today is my 58th birthday and I want to tell you about something I recently did for myself.
I returned my OBE,” he began in the post’s lengthy caption.

“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,'” continued Cumming, who is openly bisexual and an activist for LGBTQ+ rights. “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).”

“The Good Wife” star then detailed his decision to return his award.

“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,” Cumming explained. “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).

Also in his post, “The Traitors” host — who was awarded his medal by Princess Anne at the Queen’s Birthday Honours ceremony in 2009 — reshared the statement he made back when he received his OBE.

“I am really shocked and delighted to receive this honour,” Cumming wrote. “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.”

Wrapping up his post, the “Spy Kids” star wrote, “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!”

Cumming is just the latest on a growing list of stars who have either rejected or returned an award they received from the British royal family. According to People, other celebrities include David Bowie, John Lennon and Michael Sheen.

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