George Takei Says He Came Out at 68 Because of Another Star's Hypocrisy
The "Star Trek" actor opened up about his 2005 choice and how a celebrity politician prompted it.
Star Trek actor George Takei had been famous for decades and was 18 years into his relationship with now-husband Brad Takei when he came out publicly as gay. In a new interview, the 85-year-old actor spoke about why he was closeted prior to 2005 and what prompted him to share more about his personal life with the world. The reason has to do with another celebrity who Takei felt was acting hypocritically and harming the LGBTQIA community. Read on to see what the TV star shared about coming out and why this fellow actor made him so "angry."
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Takei had stayed in the closet because of his career.
"Why did it take me so long to come out?" he said. "Because I'm an actor and I wanted to work. I learned at a young age that you couldn't be an openly gay actor and hope to be employed. And I was already an Asian American actor, so I was already limited a lot. To this day, there are big Hollywood actors who are not out in order to protect their careers."
The actor also explained that he has some regrets about it now. "I was closeted for a long period of my career," he said. "I was silent during the AIDS crisis, which fills me with guilt, although I did write checks and checks to AIDS organizations."
He decided to speak out to support gay marriage.
Takei came out in 2005 at the age of 68. He explained to The Stage that he did so because he was upset that Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California at the time, had vetoed a bill that would allow same-sex marriage.
"Why did I come out when I did?" Takei told The Stage. "Because Schwarzenegger presented himself as a movie star who had worked and was friends with gays and lesbians, many of whom voted for him, but then vetoed that bill. I was so angry that I spoke to the press for the first time as a gay man at the age of 68."
He was also influenced by a role he'd played.
Takei came out publicly in a 2005 issue of the Los Angeles magazine Frontiers. As reported by People, he also spoke to the Associated Press and said, "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."
The actor also said that he was inspired by his role in the play Equus in which he played a "very contained but turbulently frustrated man."
Not long after, Takei was interviewed by The Advocate. "I might be able to contribute to the gay community as I have to the Japanese-American community and to the civil rights movement," the actor said. "Because of the changing public and political climate I think we need to get the numbers, and I can play a part in trying to bring some rationality to our society."
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Schwarzenegger vetoed two marriage bills.
Schwarzenegger was the governor of California from 2003 to 2011. During that time, Schwarzenegger vetoed two bills that would have legalized gay marriage in 2005, and then again in 2007. "I support current domestic partnership rights and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce these rights," he said in a statement in 2007, according to SFGATE.
In 2012, Schwarzenegger said in an interview with CBS News that he had performed two same-sex marriages of staff members while in office.
"I personally always said that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I would never enforce my will on people," he said (via The Advocate). "I always want people to make that decision. If they want to get married, let them get married."
Later, when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country in 2015, Schwarzenegger said in a press conference (via People), "When it comes to the Supreme Court, I'm very happy that they made the right decision on that, because we, in California, we're always a step ahead. We made the decision already a long time ago." (California legalized same-sex marriage two years earlier in 2013, following it being briefly legal in 2008.) He continued, "Everyone has equal rights. So this is the right way to go, and I think it's a great celebration of America."