The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Armistead Maupin says don’t try to keep up, just keep open

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  • Armistice Maupin, 77, who lives in London, known for his 1970s column
  • The author says that he spoke to himself through his character Mrs. Madrigali.
  • They say leave what you think is secret; other people will see themselves in you

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Armistice Maupin, 77, is famous for his 1970s Tales of the City newspaper column. Turned into a nine-novel series, the stories were adapted for TV in 1998 and then by Netflix. She lives in London with her husband, photographer and yoga teacher Christopher Turner.

I’m married to a wonderful man, 28 years my junior. It was his idea to swap San Francisco for London. He lived here in the 1990s, when modeling in Europe.


It is very important to remain curious in old age. In Tales of the City, my character Mrs Madrigal says: ‘You don’t have to stay. You just have to be open. I was talking to myself.

My mother was very wrong about what my life would be like. I came to him as gay 40 years ago.

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Leaving what you think is your biggest secret, others will find themselves in you, says 77-year-old Armiste Maupin (pictured) who lives in London

She said that I could be happy when the youth escaped my sexual abuse, but growing up was sure to be sad. And everyone knows old gay people are sad. I am very happy to prove him wrong.

When I was growing up in America, homosexuality was a crime, a sin, and a mental illness. A triple whammy.

My mother told me: ‘I don’t want this to hurt your career.’

I told him: ‘I guess this is my career.’ The fact that I was later famous for the same thing that terrified me, and that being honest would make a difference to others (and myself), was a revelation.

So this is my big lesson. Let go of what you think is your biggest secret; Other people will see themselves in you.

One of my proudest achievements is encouraging Sir Ian McKellen to come out in public. I said: ‘You’ll feel a lot better about yourself.’

And he said: ‘Well, you talked me into it. Next time the opportunity comes, I am going to do it.’

I thought: ‘It’s not going to happen, he’s just being charming.’ But he did – and became a brilliant worker.

As a young gay man, I was told that I would live half a life, a life without women. But I have many female friends. [Actress] Laura Linney even named her son after me.

Now I am of this age I have no energy for hypocrites and sacks. There is nothing like being surrounded by pure at heart people.

An Evening with Armistice Maupin is at Bristol St George’s Hall, October 26;


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