Star Trek alum George Takei has become the well-broadcast voice of the gay community on social media. He has championed the cause of bullied gay teens and marriage equality in general. He even once offered that his own name “Takei” (which, he famously explained at William Shatner’s roast, rhymes with “toupeé”) could be used in the place of the word “gay”. He lives his life in such a way as to stand for his principles, including gay advocacy, and not letting America forget about the prison camps that he and his family were placed in during World War II.
But George Takei was not always open about his homosexuality. While Hollywood was quietly accepting of gay people, much of middle America was not. Shatner’s on-screen kiss with Nichelle Nichols as Uhura, the first televised interracial kiss, was tough enough for America to handle, A gay Starfleet offficer might have been too much.
But Takei did eventually decide to come out, and not in a quiet way. He became a crusader. Now, in his recent interview with Winq, he explains what made him finally decide to stay quiet no longer. And that reason was Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“When Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for the Governor of California’s office he ran by saying, ‘I’m from Hollywood, I’ve worked with gays and lesbians, some of my best friends are gay.’ I assumed, therefore, he was pro-gay. But when the Marriage Equality Bill landed on his desk he played to the reactionary conservative element of the Republican party and vetoed it. Both Brad [George’s husband] and I were raging, our blood was boiling.
“That night, we saw all these young people pouring out onto Santa Monica Boulevard, venting their rage against Schwarzenegger. They inspired me. I’d spent a lifetime being silent on the issue… now I had to speak up.”
Takei says that he has learned that a militant approach is not the way for him to further the idea of equality in America. He does it through humor.
“I’ve learned over the years that you don’t necessarily make a point with teeth-gritting seriousness; sometimes tongue-in-cheek puts the issue into the larger context.”