With a film career that spans nearly six decades and a starring role in the upcoming musical Allegiance, George Takei has shown you, your parents, and your grandparents the breadth of his talent. However, unlike most seventy-somethings, Takei has an active Facebook page, an ever-growing desire to stay hip to our generation, and a sometimes-amusing, always-inspiring message about LGBT rights. Resilience, ambition, and heartbreak compelled my favorite Star Trek character to compose this Facebook post:
“Many on this page have commented that they are 'sick' of people talking about gay issues, or simply 'don't care' if someone is gay and would rather they would kept it to themselves. I find this disheartening.
There may come a day when we need not come out of the closet, and need not remind others of the terrible violence, inequity, and ostracism that LGBT people face daily simply because of who we are and who we love. But that day is not here, and more I importantly will never get here, unless people continue to step forward and offer themselves as examples, often at great personal cost. I am called 'faggot,' 'degenerate,' 'queer,' and 'homo' by misguided people every day of my life, even on my own page, but this does not discourage me. It only reminds me of how far we have to go.
Once upon a time I was called a 'Jap' and put into a prison for four years with my entire family, for no reason other than who we were and who we looked like. It is my life's mission to fight against the dark forces of fear and intolerance that could ever lead again to such an injustice.
Thank you for taking the time to listen. The next time you feel fatigue from hearing about LGBT issues, ask yourself this: Do we live yet in the kind of society where violence, hate, and prejudice is not an issue? Until we do, be part of the solution, and stand always for justice and equality for all people.”
Takei’s position is poignant. Have we come so far from the Stonewall Riots of 1969 that we can be flippant about LGBT rights? Takei asserts that change can only be had at the expense of those who sacrifice their image, their career, or their life because of who they are. While this may be an extreme view, it is also unfortunately supported by cases like the recent hate crime attack in New York City, or the murder in Boston. It seems that our society needs martyrs in order to compel positive change. How can one be “‘sick’ of talking about gay issues,” when the discrimination and brutality persist after 40 years of activism?
The actor reveals his painful personal experience as a Japanese internment camp prisoner in order to illustrate the degree of suffering brought by discrimination. Takei’s ethnicity compelled hate and fear from those who did not know and did not understand his identity, and now he seeks to inspire the millennial generation to “know” and to “understand” the LGBT identity.
George Takei embraced social networking as an outlet for LGBT activism. His hunger for justice and equality are as powerful as his positive message.