Star Trek actor George Takei has become something of a gay rights icon since coming out publicly in 2005. Takei, who famously was part of the first interracial kiss on television during his time on Trek, is now married to his longtime partner Brad Altman and is known as a champion for bullied LGBT teens. However, George has now revealed that his decision to come out is largely due, albeit indirectly, to actor-turned-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Takei recently spoke to Winq Magazine while promoting his new documentary To Be Takei, talking about his decision to come out to the public.
“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”, George says. “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 and I were raging, our blood was boiling.”
The unexpected veto by then-Governor Arnold, coupled with what Takei describes as “all these young people pouring out onto Santa Monica Boulevard, venting their rage” against Schwarzenegger, inspired George to come out and take action on behalf of the LGBT community.
Takei has since taken to Facebook to express himself and does so mostly with humor. The star is famous for sharing comical memes, ones that often go viral after he posts them. Recently, his meme sharing landed him in hot water when he posted a photo of a woman in a wheelchair standing up in a liquor store isle. The caption on the photo read, “There has been a miracle in the alcohol isle.”
The meme almost immediately sparked controversy after it was posted and was noted for being particularly insensitive and out of character for George. Takei apologized soon after for posting the pic.
Best known for portraying Captain Sulu in the Star Trek franchise, George Takei is currently on Broadway in the musical Allegiance, the story of a Japanese-American family in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The story was inspired by Takei’s actual childhood experiences in an American internment camp when he was just five years old. George also recently stood up for immigrant children following the controversy surrounding nearly 60,000 young immigrants crossing the U.S-Mexico border.
Takei remains a vocal activist for social and political issues, LGBT and otherwise, more recently speaking out against Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill in 2011.