Alan Cumming, of Spy Kids fame, walked on stage in Meyerson Hall Saturday night, dressed in what looked like an ordinary suit, tie and jacket.

And as he told a story about his teenage shame, Cumming casually and slowly took off his jacket until all he wore was a sleeveless collared shirt. “I don’t do shame,” he said.

Students were excited to hear Cumming, QPenn Week’s keynote speaker, discuss his career in film and television and being an openly bisexual man in the public sphere.

Wharton freshman Christian Cortes had been particularly excited because he was familiar with Cumming’s work. “It’s really nice to know that there’s someone very famous and very open about their sexuality,” he said. “He’s a really inspirational LGBT advocate and actor.”

The actor, producer and queer activist revealed he had actually had his first public date with now-husband Grant Shaffer in Philadelphia.

With his Scottish accent and charming manner, Cumming talked about the unfortunately high level of shame that continues to linger in the gay community, saying he refused to let shame dictate life or prevent him from being open about and proud of his sexuality.

He also chastised the country for still having prejudice against gay people.

“Equality is not a privilege. We shouldn’t be grateful for equality. Equality is a right,” he said indignantly. “But there’s such a feeling in this country — indeed, in the world — that we need to feel grateful for … being given equality.”

“And to those who say, ‘Oh, give it time, we’ve come so far,’” he added, “try replacing the word ‘gay’ with ‘Jewish’ or ‘black,’ and then tell me if I should be patient.”

College freshman and QPenn member Rosa Escandon loved Cumming’s talk. “All of us on the QPenn board were taken by how charming and deeply thoughtful he was,” she said. Escandon expected he would be funny and interesting but did not think he would delve so deeply into real issues.

Cumming finished with a Q&A. He answered questions about female and male circumcision, how pop culture — through television series like The L Word, on which he was a recurring guest star — can help bridge the divide between the gay and straight communities and the issues that might be associated with labeling oneself bisexual.

After it was all over, Cortes said he felt the speaker was “fabulous. I was absolutely amazed at how he nailed some of the hot issues present in the queer community and various controversies on sex censorship … It was also nice to hear him heavily promote shamelessness,” he said. “Very few people, even those in the queer community, have fully understood the importance of feeling shameless of their own identities and decisions.”

Cumming, who hoped his speech would engender discussion and provoke debate amongst its audience and their peers, was glad he was given a forum to express his strong opinions.

Referring to the film Network, he said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

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