At 68, George Takeai, a.k.a. Star Trek's Helmsman Hikaru Sulu, has come out. He told the Frontiers magazine, "The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay.The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young."
Note: This link should be good for until mid-November.
He has been with his partner Brad Altman for 18 years.
Takei has been a civil-rights activist in California for many years. As a young child (4 to 8), he was one of thousands of Americans of Japanese descent kept in concentration camps (or in the santitized lingo of the time internment centers) and stripped of their possessions during World War II. There he says, "I used to begin school every morning pledging allegiance to the flag, and I could see the barbed-wire fence out there, and the guard towers, saying, 'With liberty and justice for all,' without being aware of the irony of those words. But when we came out of camp, that’s when I first realized that being in camp, that being Japanese-American, was something shameful."
Thus, he grew up somewhat ashamed of both his ethnicity and later his sexuality. Yet after he met his partner at an LA gay running club, he slowly shifted from shame. He saw himself as normal. As he put it, "This is who I am. And by gum, I’m not going to let it be a constraint! In the same way that I’m not going to let the fact that I am a Japanese-American, who was unjustly incarcerated and grew up with that, be a constraint."
He concluded hopefully with:
I do think society will eventually change. I mean, it’s changed incredibly from the time I was a teenager to today, both in terms of Asian-Americans in the theater and television and films, but also for gays and our self-image, and the ability to move in our society. We still have the archreactionary conservatives. It’s that mentality, the Bible-thumpers, “We have the whole truth, and by gum we’re going to impose it on everybody.” It’s that same mentality that had segregation in the south: Blacks and whites can never mix. And the segregationists had the truth. The Bible-thumping religiosos are not the holders of the truth, and yet they are the ones who want to impose their truth—and I respect their truth, if they find it for their strength and their guidance through life—but for them to impose that on the rest of society, the rest of America, I think is just as corrupt as the segregationists trying to impose racial segregation in the South.By gum, indeed.