Takei Calls For IDIC Toward Gay Americans

By Michelle
January 31, 2006 - 10:33 PM

George Takei (Sulu) said that 95 percent of the mail he has received since publicly acknowledging his homosexuality has been supportive, and that Star Trek fans have been overwhelmingly accepting.

"You know, the 'Star Trek' philosophy, too, is to find our strength in our diversity," Takei told The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, of which he has been a member since 1990. "There's that phrase: 'infinite diversity in infinite combinations.' I remember Gene Rodenberry frequently telling us that the strength of the Starship Enterprise — which is a metaphor for starship Earth — lay in its diversity. And so 'Star Trek' fans recognize the richness that we gain from diversity."

Since he spoke out about his sexual orientation, noted Takei, "The computer just exploded with e-mails...and I would say 95 percent have been very positive." Many of the fans who wrote to him "are gay, and some closeted, and they've thanked me for speaking out." At the time he was on the original Star Trek series, Takei had not come out publicly, and he said that the people he worked with on the series did not know at the time, though he and partner Brad Altman now spend time with Walter Koenig (Chekov) and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) and had been friendly with James Doohan (Scotty) and his wife.

Takei and Altman revealed their relationship to colleagues and friends and have their names jointly on donations and in sponsorship programs, but what inspired them to talk to the press "was the fact that the California Legislature passed the same-sex marriage act — Bill 849 — and the only thing it required to become the law of the state was the signature of the governor." During his campaign, recalled Takei, Arnold Schwarzenegger discussed working with gays and lesbians in the motion picture business, but he refused to sign the bill. "I felt that I needed to speak out, and in order to do that, my voice had to be authentic. So I decided to speak to the press for the first time," Takei explained.

Though Takei compared the process of coming out as more akin to walking down a corridor than through a door, he added, "It is still a corridor, albeit wide, in that we don't have equality with other Americans. And I am particularly aware of that, because I grew up in a barbed-wire U.S. internment camp, under the most unjust circumstances...there are what I call these 'invisible barbed wires of legality' that deny us our full justice and freedom." He said that by the time he concluded that his shame at being Japanese-American was misplaced, he had begun to discover his sexual orientation, "and it becomes a kind of covert search for gratification. And particularly because I began a career as an actor."

Takei declined to give advice to others considering coming out, saying that it would be self-righteous and that "Each person has to make his or her own decisions based on their specific and personal circumstances." He did say that he believes America is coming closer to fundamental ideals, adding, "I think it's time now to recognize that gay and lesbian Americans are like all Americans, with this unique difference, as Japanese Americans are like all Americans with the unique difference of ancestry."

The full interview, including Takei's explanation of why he is a Human Rights Campaign Foundation member, is here.

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