Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Warp Speed Wednesdays. To Boldly Go Where No Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgendered Person Has Gone Before.

I don't consider myself a true fan of science-fiction. I have no appetite for dreary visions of earth's future as post-apocalyptic, polluted, violent, libertarian cesspool. This is why I'm a fan of Star Trek.  The United Federation of Planets is a utopia. Money is obsolete. Poverty is unknown. Violence is scorned. Peace reigns. There's universal health care and education. There is no sexism or racism.  Miscegenation is commonplace. Science is revered. Organized religion is viewed with skepticism.

Alas there is one thing missing in this pretty picture of the 23rd/24th century: homosexuality.

There are now two openly gay Star Trek actors. Last month in a magazine interview, Zachary Quinto (aka Spock from the newest Star Trek movie) described himself as "a gay man."  In 2005, George Takei (Mr Sulu from the original series) publicly disclosed his sexual orientation.  But there are still ZERO openly gay Star Trek characters. I am frustrated that the Star Trek franchise ignores lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Wikipedia has a great article about Sexuality in Star Trek. It mentions that franchise-creator Gene Roddenberry wanted to incorporate gay characters into Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. But he passed away in 1991 without following through. In the last twenty years, no one at Paramount has taken up Roddenberry's idea. There are only a handful of episodes in various series which reference or explore sexual orientation. Sadly the writing and the marketing for those stories focused upon the novelty of same-sex relationships for the heterosexual crew members.

A cursory glance at the search terms that lead people to my blog indicates that Trekkies are very curious about the sexual dalliances of the characters. Especially if the characters are the same sex. Star Trek online forums are rife with threads discussing, detecting, dissecting and denigrating same-sex subtext (ie Kirk + Spock = Pon Farr PARTYTIME!, Did Janeway groom Seven to be her Sappho sex slave?, etc) in Star Trek. A lot of these discussions are puerile and border on homophobia, but the fans are interested.

It's time for JJ Abrams, and Paramount, to create a Star Trek character who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered and bring Star Trek into the 21st century.


  1. I do not watch stat trek, but i totally agree with your suggestion that the producers add more people gay/lesbian/transgender people.

  2. When I read this I thought "now hold on a minute, I'm sure there was a same-sex couple once!" and then after racking my brains I had to agree there was not.

    Which just kind of underlines for me that the Star Trek universe needs to embrace this, because it seems like such a natural fit.

    Also, love your point about most sci-fi being all dystopian and scary... but not Trek. Hadn't thought of that before. Explains why I like it even though I'm not much of a one for sci-fi usually.

  3. It's a shame a gay character wasn't originally included in Next Generation, it could have really added a lot for various plot explorations and positive social influence over the years.

  4. @Marty -- I agree! The original series was very edgy & progressive for it's time because it showed a racially integrated crew in a very turbulent period in the US. In comparison TNG (which I do love) really seems tepid.

    @Hannah -- I never did get into the new Battlestar Galactica. It was too dark. I'm a shiny, happy person. Well. At least I try to be.

    @Christine -- Even just a cursory mention, done in a respectful manner, would make me happy at this point.

  5. That's a really good point - kind of disappointed in myself that I'd never noticed. Remember the episode where Beverly Crusher falls in love with the - whatever the species with the symbiants is? And then the new host is a woman? Except, later in DS9 they said that new hosts weren't supposed to reconnect with people from their previous host's lives or something, so it doesn't make sense anyway, but the point is everyone was screwed out of some hot lesbo action by Dr. Crusher's rigid heterosexuality. Okay, that's totally not the point, I've just taken too many painkillers again.