To boldly go where no one has gone before.
October 28, 2005 12:59 AM   Subscribe

To boldly go where no one has gone before. George Takai comes out of the closet! Old Star Trek episodes suddenly become gay kitsch, develop strange, new context. Sexuality: The Final Frontier?
posted by insomnia_lj (106 comments total)
 
This is a beautiful post. Thank you.
posted by tweak at 1:13 AM on October 28, 2005


Meh, he's gay. So what? Doesn't change anything he did, as it wasn't done with him expressly not being gay. He's a guy who was on a space show. Played a great character and will be know for that.

It's just a shame that being gay is such a big deal.

Now if you told me some gay-bashing wingnut had just come out, that would be news. But mostly because of the hypocrisy not teh ghay.
posted by qwip at 1:18 AM on October 28, 2005


Looking at those pictures - wow - you forget they were ever that young.
posted by oh pollo! at 1:26 AM on October 28, 2005


sweet
posted by angry modem at 1:29 AM on October 28, 2005





posted by fandango_matt at 1:29 AM on October 28, 2005


Man, I hated that show. I'm glad to notice sexuality revelations haven't made the show either better or worse. Good for him coming out though.
posted by Swandive at 1:30 AM on October 28, 2005


A gay actor? In Los Angeles? Incredible.
posted by three blind mice at 1:32 AM on October 28, 2005


Dammit Swandive, I'm a doctor, not a television producer...
posted by qwip at 1:33 AM on October 28, 2005


Wow. He's been with his partner for 18 years and it never broke publicly? That's the most amazing thing about this to me...

Good on him, though. The last link is fascinating as well. I remember that episode involving Crusher and the symbiote and never considered the weirdness of the ending...
posted by brundlefly at 1:35 AM on October 28, 2005


This just in! Formerly young gay man found to be oriental space alien! Developing...
posted by Balisong at 1:35 AM on October 28, 2005


So, those "tribble stuffing" rumors were .....

Naw, naw ... must avoid the cheap joke.

Read that he's doing the Dysart part in "Equus" now. Saw Nimoy do that several years back. Great play/great part. Very demanding. Would be curious to see Sulu doin it.
posted by RavinDave at 2:17 AM on October 28, 2005


But the mystery of his deep voice continues on...
posted by TwelveTwo at 2:24 AM on October 28, 2005


"Oh my!"
posted by Optamystic at 2:25 AM on October 28, 2005


I just want to know if he's going to do anymore VA working for The Simpsons.

This is kind of funny too, considering how many women have a thing for his voice. Heh.
posted by Talanvor at 2:29 AM on October 28, 2005


Boy, I bet the writers of Sulu slash are just foaming at the keyboards...
posted by klangklangston at 2:30 AM on October 28, 2005


You guys sure we're not talking about the "evil" Sulu from episode #39, "Mirror, Mirror"?

(okay ... ONE cheap joke ... )
posted by RavinDave at 2:34 AM on October 28, 2005


This is a wonderful story. It's sad that he felt he had to wait so long to come out but I'm glad he had the courage to do so in the end.

It's just a shame that it won't have any effect on the hypocrisy of the entertainment industry. The truth is, the people who worked with George probably knew he was gay all along. The industry is full of gay men and women whose sexuality is a well-known secret. The people in charge are terrified of the public finding out in case they stay away from the theatres or switch off their TV sets.
posted by londonmark at 2:38 AM on October 28, 2005



posted by angry modem at 2:41 AM on October 28, 2005


angry, try it like this:

via b3ta
posted by NinjaPirate at 2:47 AM on October 28, 2005


I can hear the slash fan community literally exploding.
posted by Dean Keaton at 2:56 AM on October 28, 2005


Didn't one of the movies or the later series have a minor character who was gay?
posted by alumshubby at 3:01 AM on October 28, 2005


yay gay, mr. takai!

and qwip, that quip actually made me do the awful snort-laugh... dammit!
posted by lapolla at 3:03 AM on October 28, 2005


It's great that he's made such a public announcement. But if you read soc.motss, you knew about QueerSulu back in 1991.
posted by Nelson at 3:18 AM on October 28, 2005


IMDB: " ... his name is pronounced 'Ta-kay'. "

I must confess, I'll find that easier to remember now.
posted by RavinDave at 3:19 AM on October 28, 2005


yay!
posted by shmegegge at 3:28 AM on October 28, 2005


I read about it here.

“I’ve been telling people for nearly 20 years that I was gay” said Takei. “But the response I always got was ‘we know you’re gay, George, you’re a Trekkie.’"

(spoof)
posted by Davenhill at 3:28 AM on October 28, 2005


Why are they gay kitsch when they weren't gay kitsch before? Why does everyone care what anyone is? Furthermore, if he was already out before this "official" outing, why'd he have to make it official?

Also, how the fuck is prancing around shirtless with a sword somehow gay? All that I personally see as gay is perhaps spock looks particularly stylish with that shoulder bag, but then that's because I come from a social group in the u.s. where we lovingly call such shoulderbags fag-bags. ;)
posted by taursir at 3:50 AM on October 28, 2005


I'm glad Takei made this more explicitly public. I didn't know it but it doesn't change my feelings towards him or the series at all. Sulu wasn't a very romantically or sexually active character in the series (unlike Kirk, Spock, Chekhov or Mckoy) so I don't think there is all that much to reinterpret as "gay kitsch. Now if Shatner came out as gay, that would be a shock almost as big as Rock Hudson's was.

I've always loved the original Star Trek series, which premiered when I was only 9. I remember with pride writing in to NBC to keep the series on the air after the second year. There are some terrible episodes, but many of them are still fun to watch almost years later.

The fact that Takei had been in an internment camp was also news to me. I hope he talks more about that issue too.

The biggest thing I came across in the last year was how much I had under-appreciated Lt. Leslie's (Eddie Paskey) work in the series.
posted by notmtwain at 4:12 AM on October 28, 2005


*does that weird Sulu laugh*
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:19 AM on October 28, 2005


When the cat's away . . .
posted by johngoren at 4:20 AM on October 28, 2005


I got to hear Takei speak at a convention several years ago. He's brilliant, personable and an all-around nice guy. His personal history is well worth noting, as well-- he's probably one of the highest-profile surviving victims of the WWII-era Japanese-American concentration camps, a shameful piece of history that we seem to be trying to forget. He also had an ill-fated run for public office some years back, which turned into a debacle when his opponent charged, and the courts agreed, that under the Fairness Doctrine (remember that?) Star Trek reruns counted, so every time Mr. Sulu put the Enterprise into warp, Takei's opponent got to rant on TV for an hour about political issues.

I've admired George Takei for a long time, and while this particular announcement comes as a surprise to me, the bravery and strength he's showing in making it public does not surprise me at all.

It may be time for me to dust off my Sulu impression. "Oh, my...." indeed.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:20 AM on October 28, 2005


Working Lt. Leslie link.
posted by RavinDave at 4:31 AM on October 28, 2005


Hey Ninja you forgot to give the artist credit.
posted by srboisvert at 4:37 AM on October 28, 2005


Yeah, my gaydar is about .000001 and I knew the guy was gay. I mean come on, who describes something a "a real hoot" who's not someone's grandmother (or Al Gore, who I think is gay).
I have to agree with londonmark it's a real shame there is a hypocracy in place that forces people to hide their sexuality. It should stop.

Not sure I agree with Franklin Hummel on all points though. I don't have a problem with an openly gay character on whatever show. I think STDS9 has handled some issues on racism very well, avoiding the hackneyed "racism is bad" sort of morality play in favor of some excellent story telling.
(The reprogramming story involving Ryker on TNG comes to mind)

But as much as I'd like to have seen Beverly Crusher make out with another chick, I think it's as appropriate as say having a gay character who is uncomfortable with kissing a person of the opposite sex.

If the orbital mind control lasers caused my wife to want and have a sex change, I suspect I'd be a little uncomfortable with it.

No one should be forced to be someone other than who they are.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:37 AM on October 28, 2005


If you do the Sulu Dance while wearing tight pants, some people may call you a queen...
posted by Robot Johnny at 4:42 AM on October 28, 2005


You mean, uh, little baby chickens?
posted by Robot Johnny at 4:44 AM on October 28, 2005


This is gonna lead to some interesting filking sessions at sci-fi conventions....
posted by alumshubby at 4:47 AM on October 28, 2005


Maybe he's gay because they gave his character a girl's first name.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:59 AM on October 28, 2005


According to Behind the Name, it's a masculine name.


HIKARU
Gender: Masculine
Usage: Japanese
Means "light" in Japanese.
posted by notmtwain at 5:15 AM on October 28, 2005




I asked my (Japanese) wife, and she said it can be used for both genders. I stand corrected.
I guess I just never encountered any male Hikarus, (or Hikkis).
posted by bashos_frog at 5:31 AM on October 28, 2005


It's both a boy's and girl's name. I know boys and girls named Hikaru. Although I think that it's more common as a girl's name.
posted by donkeymon at 5:43 AM on October 28, 2005


so, it's "steady as he goes, mr sulu"
posted by pyramid termite at 5:44 AM on October 28, 2005


I, too, thought he was already out.
Hmm. Must've been those conventions I attended in the 80s.
Hope attendance goes up for his Equus show.
posted by Busithoth at 5:46 AM on October 28, 2005


Well this puts young wet bitches in a slightly different context...
posted by PenDevil at 5:47 AM on October 28, 2005


There's a six part interview with George Takei on Google Video.
posted by Edame at 5:53 AM on October 28, 2005


I mean come on, who describes something a "a real hoot" who's not someone's grandmother (or Al Gore, who I think is gay).

Plenty of people who are from certain parts of the South--and I'm not saying this to take up for Al. That's coincidental.
posted by raysmj at 6:10 AM on October 28, 2005


Or incidental, rather.
posted by raysmj at 6:11 AM on October 28, 2005


I mean come on, who describes something a "a real hoot" who's not someone's grandmother

Smedlyman, you're a real hoot. I'll have to tell my grandson to start calling me "Grandma".

But your declaration that "No one should be forced to be someone other than who they are", when combined with personal responsibility, is a pretty good one-line definition of freedom.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:11 AM on October 28, 2005


Takei ... SECRETS ...
posted by ginbiafra at 6:22 AM on October 28, 2005


Does he do professional sports too?
posted by kika at 6:23 AM on October 28, 2005


well this covers todays 'teh gay is so kewl' post. stand by for our regularly scheduled 'spiritual people are teh stoopit' post right after this word from our sponsor.

*yawn*
posted by quonsar at 6:26 AM on October 28, 2005


Sorry, q, you're off-base. This is today's "MeFites are a bunch of nerds who like to talk about Star Trek actors" post. Expect the "spiritual people are teh stoopit" post shortly after the Fitzgerald indictments are announced.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:31 AM on October 28, 2005


damn. i always get those mixed up.
posted by quonsar at 6:36 AM on October 28, 2005


May the force be with him.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:56 AM on October 28, 2005


well this covers todays 'teh gay is so kewl' post. stand by for our regularly scheduled 'spiritual people are teh stoopit' post right after this word from our sponsor.

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posted by three blind mice at 6:59 AM on October 28, 2005


Wow. He's been with his partner for 18 years and it never broke publicly? That's the most amazing thing about this to me...

Almost as amazing as the revelation that Scotty has only 9 fingers.

PS: is Metafilthy busted on this thread for anyone else?
posted by Mitheral at 7:08 AM on October 28, 2005


The fact that Takei had been in an internment camp was also news to me. I hope he talks more about that issue too.

Yeah well this makes George a lot more unique than being gay. It would be great to know more about his family's experience during that time.

The exact same thing happened in Canada. The National Film Board recently made an evocative, touching film about the life of Asayo Murakami, a Japanese Canadian woman 103 years old in 2001.
posted by scheptech at 7:17 AM on October 28, 2005


No wonder he was afraid of the giant "maw" in Star Trek - The Motion Picture!!
posted by Ben Grimm at 7:22 AM on October 28, 2005


well this covers todays 'teh gay is so kewl' post. stand by for our regularly scheduled 'spiritual people are teh stoopit' post right after this word from our sponsor.

*yawn*
posted by quonsar at 6:26 AM PST on October 28


wow more 'edgy' and 'off-the-wall' comments from mefi's most overrated poster

oh man maybe you could post a wacky picture that is so quonsar

p.s. teh
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:27 AM on October 28, 2005


Wow. He's been with his partner for 18 years and it never broke publicly? That's the most amazing thing about this to me...

If public figures really want to keep their lives private, they are generally allowed to do so.
posted by orange swan at 7:35 AM on October 28, 2005


Well, no one else will take the obvious bait so here goes (apologies in advance):

The question is not whether no one has gone there before but how many come there.
posted by nofundy at 7:35 AM on October 28, 2005


he's actually on howard stern alot, I wonder if they'll talk about it on the show.
posted by Billistics at 7:38 AM on October 28, 2005


What a goofy subject to post about. We need more doggy dildeaux!
posted by davy at 7:41 AM on October 28, 2005


Best. FPP. Ever.
posted by JeffK at 7:46 AM on October 28, 2005


Well, Sulu is from San Francisco. I'm surprised he didn't mention this on his blog.


posted by kirkaracha at 7:50 AM on October 28, 2005


It's just a shame that it won't have any effect on the hypocrisy of the entertainment industry. The truth is, the people who worked with George probably knew he was gay all along. The industry is full of gay men and women whose sexuality is a well-known secret...

Back when my husband was a writer's assistant at a tv-show-that-will-not-be-named, he had to drop off a script at George Takei's house for his upcoming guest starring role on an episode. He got greeted at the door by his partner, who was very nice and asked if my husband wanted to meet George, which he did--I mean, who wouldn't? According to him, they were (are) both lovely people. Takei has been active in a number of the annual GLAAD awards too, so it really wasn't that big of a secret.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:51 AM on October 28, 2005


amen . . . and, 'duh'
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:53 AM on October 28, 2005


I found this post on Takei's blog about his experiences while interned in a camp in Arkansas as a child to be quite moving.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:55 AM on October 28, 2005


For some reason, I thought this was already known...but maybe I had just assumed that he was gay?
posted by kaseijin at 8:01 AM on October 28, 2005


Thank you George Takei, for not being cast as the scientist/technician/nerd in Star Trek. Good on you for coming out as well, perhaps will speak to the many Asian (hopefully minorities, perhaps any) gay closetted folks out there and help in some small way.
posted by eurasian at 8:18 AM on October 28, 2005


Someday, coming out will be as antiquated as "Victorian sexuality."
posted by warbaby at 8:22 AM on October 28, 2005


1) Just because and actor declares his sexuality, doesn't all of a sudden go back and redefine every performance he's ever done. The actor is gay, not the character. Please keep this distinction in mind.

2) Gay |= kitsch. Star Trek was camp/kitsch/teh-suck before anybody started even wondering about the sexuality of its actors.

3) Why this obsession with people's sexuality? Who cares what some (apparently quite pleasant) actor of a lame-ass show which was cancelled before most of us were born is inclined to screw?
posted by signal at 8:38 AM on October 28, 2005


This is my surprised face.
posted by odinsdream at 8:38 AM on October 28, 2005


This does give new meaning to the scene in which Sulu and Chekov abandon their post to scamper off to the gym together in the "Naked Time" episode. Come to think of it, the episode's title also winds up having a new meaning.
posted by maxsparber at 8:46 AM on October 28, 2005


Or an updated form of debutante balls.
posted by klangklangston at 8:48 AM on October 28, 2005


Sorry, that was an xpost to warbaby.
posted by klangklangston at 8:49 AM on October 28, 2005



wow more 'edgy' and 'off-the-wall' comments from mefi's most overrated poster


thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's snark.
posted by quonsar at 8:55 AM on October 28, 2005



Star Fleet: Don't ask, don't tell.

That's why we didn't know up until now.
posted by fluffycreature at 8:56 AM on October 28, 2005


and I thought I was mefi's most overrated poster. Damn you quonsar.
posted by jonmc at 8:57 AM on October 28, 2005


I'm proud of him. I'm hoping the recent declarations will start a snowball effect---Tab Hunter, Swoopes, Takei...

Who's next?
posted by amberglow at 9:03 AM on October 28, 2005


Bones: "He's Gay, Jim!"
posted by squalor at 9:11 AM on October 28, 2005


Why this obsession with people's sexuality?

Maybe because there are certain social circles who still "lovingly" refer to something as a "fagbag."
posted by archimago at 9:29 AM on October 28, 2005


Hmmm. I thought Star Trek TOS was already gay kitsch of the highest order, and always had been, right from the beginning.
posted by jokeefe at 9:30 AM on October 28, 2005


Thank you, Signal.
posted by taursir at 9:38 AM on October 28, 2005


The actor is gay, not the character.

Unless, of course, the actor really can't act. Then the character still comes across as gay. Rock Hudson was never a convincing straight actor. I remember seeing him in a movie as a kid and thinking he didn't seem even slightly attracted to his supposed love interest — he just acted pissed off with her.
posted by orange swan at 9:48 AM on October 28, 2005


He wrote a pretty good autobiography. It's called "To the Stars".
posted by VanRoosta at 9:54 AM on October 28, 2005


signal: 3) Why this obsession with people's sexuality? Who cares what some (apparently quite pleasant) actor of a lame-ass show which was cancelled before most of us were born is inclined to screw?

If you don't care so much why are you here?
posted by Mitheral at 10:05 AM on October 28, 2005


Wait, wait, wait, stop right there...

Tab Hunter is gay?!?!?!?
posted by quantumetric at 10:10 AM on October 28, 2005


Wait, wait, wait, stop right there...

Tab Hunter is gay?!?!?!?


Next thing they'll be trying to tell us Rip Taylor is gay. Some people.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:36 AM on October 28, 2005


I wonder George's sexuality had anything to do with the animosity between him and Shatner?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:42 AM on October 28, 2005


eurasian: "Thank you George Takei, for not being cast as the scientist/technician/nerd in Star Trek."

Actually, in the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," he was cast as the ship's physicist. Which is definitely a scientist nerd.

Happily, with the loss of Gary Mitchell, Sulu got to move to Command and become a pilot.

What? Oh... why yes, I am a huge geek. Why do you ask?

Anyway, good for you, George! (we all knew already, though.)

More famous gay people coming out hopefully leads to 'critical mass' acceptance. Hopefully.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:51 AM on October 28, 2005


If public figures really want to keep their lives private, they are generally allowed to do so.

On what planet?
posted by brundlefly at 10:55 AM on October 28, 2005


Why this obsession with people's sexuality?

People are obsessed with people's sexuality period. Evidence: we're approaching 100 posts, 10% say something else about George including my failed attempt to spark interest in his internment camp experience, and 50% say we already knew he was gay - but we're still talking about the fact he's gay...

And on mefi, teh gay gets a special pass despite the ongoing frequency of the topic and, in this case, redundancy of the info. Why? Teh gay is counterculture, subversive, edgy, and especially: proof of cluefullness. It's the civil rights cause of this decade whose aim is to remove all the countercultural, subversive, edgyness out of the topic - or will it?
posted by scheptech at 10:56 AM on October 28, 2005


So, him being gay changes what, exactly? It's kinda sad, really, that this has to be a News Story (or even an FPP).
posted by Harry at 10:58 AM on October 28, 2005


On what planet?

Planet West Hollywood. Seriously, I've seen a lot of familiar faces down there on Santa Monica--including Takei-- that the media's never outed, unless the celebrity outs themselves or it's a scandal like George Michael's bust. These open secrets make you realize either the media really does respect their privacy or the denizens of West Hollywood do.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:26 AM on October 28, 2005


And he's 68. "Gay Was Good"?
posted by alumshubby at 11:55 AM on October 28, 2005


See, I get ticked off when people say, "Oh, he's gay. Who cares?" Sexuality is so passe it seems, unless of course like I do, you live in Texas and are about to vote for a stupid proposition to keep me from doing something that this great state already stops me from. As long as the GLBT community doesn't have equal rights, then yes, a person's sexuality is important because that sexuality is being legislated against.

*hops of soapbox* I'm going to go early vote now, ciao y'all.
posted by lychee at 12:43 PM on October 28, 2005


"...mefi's most overrated poster"

You called?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:44 PM on October 28, 2005


HIKARU
Gender: Masculine
Usage: Japanese
Means "light" in Japanese.


And no one noticed that "Sulu" means "in the loafers."
posted by pracowity at 2:14 PM on October 28, 2005


“I wonder George's sexuality had anything to do with the animosity between him and Shatner?”
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:42 AM PST on October 28 [!]


I suspect that was caused by the disharmony between Shatner’s ringing inner ear problem and George’s bass voice.

What a hoot!

....ok, fun to say, it’s not just for grandmothers.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:18 PM on October 28, 2005


MetaFilter: What a hoot!
posted by bwg at 5:35 PM on October 28, 2005


I, too, thought he was already out. Hmm. Must've been those conventions I attended in the 80s.

Heh. This was definitely an open secret in the Trek community. Here's a USENET post from 1996 (here, someone on soc.motss claims he was "out several years ago"). I met him at one; he was well-known as the most personable of all the regular TOS cast, one reason there was a claque pushing the "Captain Sulu" show concept. When he would do appearances, he would deliberately mingle in con suites and his big schtick was the Sunday morning run ... with as many as wanted to join. Great guy.

I believe it was there I was told, kinda sotto voce (it was still the 80s), "You know he's gay?" I actually dismissed it as gossip at the time.

Ah, here, a 1994 claim that Takei was on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force list of out gays. In 1991, a post that he was in the gay running club FrontRunners LA.

And just because it's cute, a 1985 post on net.startrek (before the Great Renaming!):
This same source does not refer to Takei's marital status and since he is the only omission, this suggests that he is not married, but ????

???? indeed.
posted by dhartung at 9:27 PM on October 28, 2005


Evidence: we're approaching 100 posts, 10% say something else about George including my failed attempt to spark interest in his internment camp experience

OK, I'll bite. Other cool facts about George Takei: (1) He not only has a great singing voice, but appeared in the original cast of Flower Drum Song; (2) He was the major Asian-American activist who helped Tom Bradley get elected as the first black mayor in LA. For helping to deliver the Asian vote, Bradley showed Takei his appreciation by appointing him to the board of the Southern California Rapid Transit District; (3) He served as vice-president of the American Public Transit Association; (4) His first showbiz job was dubbing voices from the Japanese monster movie Rodan into English.
posted by jonp72 at 11:40 PM on October 28, 2005


Maybe because there are certain social circles who still "lovingly" refer to something as a "fagbag."
posted by archimago at 9:29 AM PST on October 28 [!]


Taursir is 1) a friend fo mine, and 2) not someone who is going to indulge in any homophobic behaviour. You're barking up the wrong tree, pal.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:41 AM on October 30, 2005


But it can make for an interesting re-reading. See The Celluloid Closet (1995)
posted by Dick Paris at 4:00 AM on October 30, 2005


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