BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Star Trek co-star George Takei says it took another famous movie actor to drive him out of the closet, when in 2005 California’s then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger terminated the state’s just-passed gay marriage law.
“He’s a Republican and he played to his arch-conservative sector of that Republican base and he vetoed that bill,” Takei recalls. “My blood was boiling but we were silent.”
That night, he and longtime partner Brad Altman watched TV news. “We saw young people pouring out onto Santa Monica Boulevard, venting their rage at Arnold Schwarzenegger and I felt the need to speak out. Brad and I discussed it and we decided that I would speak to the press for the first time as a gay man. It was from that point that I became active. I joined the Human Rights Campaign and went on a nationwide speaking tour.”
Three years later, California’s Supreme Court reinstated the marriage law. Takei and Altman, together more than 20 years at the time, wed in 2008.
Saturday night, Takei receives a national leadership award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force at its 17th annual Miami Recognition Dinner. The sold-out event at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach also honors activist Joseph Falk, a Miami mortgage broker, with the 2013 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award.
Known as Mr. Sulu during Star Trek’s glory years in the 1960s and ‘70s, Takei says back then he lived in “constant, ever-present fear of being exposed.”
Now 76, Takei is a spokesman for AARP, the national association for people age 50 and up.
“I like to think that I bring a larger demographic than the traditional AARP demographic,” he says. “The children of Star Trek fans are also Star Trek fans. They grew up on the Next Generation spinoffs of Star Trek and they are just as interested in sci-fi and technology and the future as their parents are. And they are now approaching AARP age.”