Actor George Takei of Star Trek fame has come out of the closet recently and announced his gayness to the world. The actor played the character of Sulu the helmsman on the TV show Star Trek and later in the movies based on the television series. Takei, in his announcement, cited the fact that society has changed to such an extent that he no longer felt he had to conceal his sexual orientation. But mostly, I believe, he knew that it wasn't going to negatively affect his career as much as it might have, both because of the more tolerant atmosphere in the United States and also because being a pretty old guy by this time with money in the bank, his career is undoubtedly winding down. If he has a career at all.
He had been slated to appear in the last Star Trek movie with the original cast in a very small part, but he found out that were he to decline this part, the writers would make a reference to Captain Sulu having his own Star Ship. Which is what he decided to do. The other Star Trek actors roundly criticized him for turning down a real-life role paying actual money so that the fictional character he used to play could get an imaginary promotion. I'm guessing that he knew that whatever lasting fame and immortality he would ever have was tied to the character of Sulu and he wants his obituary to read that he played the role of Captain Sulu instead of merely Commander Sulu. It also shows a lot of dedication to the creative process to pass on real cash.
I'd read his autobiography a number of years ago. Obviously he hadn't made any reference to his lifestyle back then, but I do recall him saying that it was difficult for a Japanese actor to get any roles aside from 'houseboy' in plays and movies. Kids, back in those days every gay man was an actor. Every single one of them (for the most part), every single day had to pretend that he was straight and not acknowledge the thoughts and desires that were illegal in all fifty states. It's no surprise that so many of them chose to get paid for what they were doing already for free.
Star Trek for it's time was extremely ground breaking merely for showing an egalitarian work place where men and women and people from different countries and ethnic groups worked side by side. That work place did not exist in the mid 1960's and to even show it as a possibility was controversial. Portraying openly gay characters would have been entirely beyond the pale.
If you look at old time TV shows and movies you can see that there were gay characters portrayed, but only for comic relief. You know, look at those funny men who act like women - that sort of thing.
My belief is that a lot of the 'buddy' movies of the past were actually code for gay relationships. Look at Abbot and Costello. Don't tell me that those two men weren't involved in a loving monogamous relationship. Or Hope and Crosby. Why were they always on the road to somewhere or the other? It was because they would keep getting run out of town for their deviant ways and had to take to the road. Martin and Lewis? Okay. Sure there was always a lot of talk about Dean and his women - so maybe he was Bi - but you always, always knew who his first love was, didn't you? At the end of the movie, who did Dean Martin end up with?
And the three stooges, what was their story? Why were these three men always together everywhere? Well, I've got the answer and it's simple if you think about it: Gay swingers.
About the Author: Steve Sommers is the author of Breakfast with the Antichrist. His new novel, Rexroi, along with the best of Australian Science Fiction - is available as an ebook at www.rspublishing.com.au, OR if you ABSOLUTELY need to turn pages when you read - at www.lulu.com/content/306670