Aug 6, 2010

Long Overdue: LGBT Characters in Star Trek

"To boldly go where no man has gone before." That was the mission the Enterprise set out on all those years ago, yet the show itself never went to one particular place - depicting gay characters on any of their television shows or films.

With Proposition 8 having been overturned in California this week, one has to stop and think; if this is where we are in 2010, will Gene Roddenberry's near-Utopian future ever follow suit? Find out the history plus my thoughts in my latest article at Newsarama.

9 comments:

Jason said...

Actually, in the Star Trek: Titan book series, one of the characters is gay. He's a Trill who had a "life mate" (another man) and after the latter was killed in action, he eventually developed a relationship with another man.

Actually, his first partner was Lt. Hawk (Neal McDonough), the guy assimilated by the Borg in Star Trek: Insurrection.

Unfortunately, the novels aren't canon.

Girls Are said...

They didn't get explicit, although they did brush the subject a few times. There was the "non-sex" race that had the "female" who fell for Riker and was rejected from her society. There was also a brief moment when the Trill fell for Beverly, and then was put into a female body, even though Beverly didn't respond well.

I do wish they had hit the subject harder, but Star Trek always did a decent job of commenting on human affairs in their own way, and maybe if this type of thing can be worked into the current movie stories, I will forgive JJ Abrams for destroying the universe of my childhood.

Rosalind
Girls Are Geeks

Randy said...

Yeah, to say that Trek NEVER dealt with the subject is kinda wrong there. I was thinking of the episode with Beverly Crusher and the Trill guy she fell in love with. At the end of the episode, she just couldn't handle him being in a woman's body.

I'm sure if the TV climate had been different in the 60s, 70s even the 80s, it would be a subject that would have been dealt with more.

Back then, the most consistent portrayal of 'gay' was Jack Tripper on Three's Company. That's not saying anything there, by the way.

The Nerdy Bird said...

Exactly Jason, the books aren't canon.

Rosalind, yes I mentioned that episode in my article actually. And Randy, the subject of the Trill is a tough one because the trill itself doesn't have a sex. So are the members of the species "homosexual" or just omnisexual because the entity is something else entirely?

You can see some more detail about certain episodes and incidents here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexuality_in_Star_Trek

Nick Ahlhelm said...

I would argue that Star Trek has dealt with LGBT issues much longer than pretty much anything else on television at least. They did several episodes of both Next Gen and DS9 that dealt with LGBT issues. Most of the problems seem related to Rick Berman who took the shows in to flatter and flatter and tried way too hard to not be too offensive to opposition opinions on anything.

I disagree with your argument in the desperate need for it to happen now, on screen. I think forcing a LGBT character in to Star Trek 2 would be silly unless an intelligent reason can be found to have them. I don't want to see a character added to the cast just so we can have the token "gay". Should a new TV series develop, sure. But I don't think 2 hours of movie gives a lot of room for exploration of the sex lives of many of the characters beyond Spock and Kirk, both well-established heterosexuals.

In the mean time, maybe you should go to the book franchises if you're in search of LGBT Trek characters. Pretty much every Andy Mangels and Michael Martin novel features an LGBT character somewhere.

Your friend, Rusty said...

Agreeing with your article 100%.

Also looking forward to the day when the inclusion of LGBT characters happens with enough regularity that no one yells "token."

Matt said...

Also I think relevant to the topic is the DS9 Episode "Rejoined", when two female Trills, heterosexually married in past lives, meet again and have a romantic connection.
Apparently the statement for the entire episode was "It's about the love, not the gender" as other principle cast members debate on the merits of love vs homophobia.

However I largely agree that the lack of a GLBT major character clashes with the Star Trek utopia.

The Nerdy Bird said...

Nick, which episodes of TNG and DS9 are you referring to? If it's the Trill episodes, like I already said, that was more of an androgyny issue than anything else. Or do you just mean there was more going on behind the scenes that never made it out?

I wouldn't say I have a "desperate" need for it to happen now, but why not? I'm against a "token" any kind of character in tv or film but that doesn't mean something can't be placed in the plot or script casually. I don't know if you watch Doctor Who but just think about the first episode Captain Jack was introduced. He made a few subtle remarks, nothing was on the nose.

Are the book franchises that have the LGBT characters in canon? Just curious.

Stuart Bast Baker said...

The first Captain Jack episode of Doctor Who was pretty on the nose as far as I remember, he just didn't actually "do" anything onscreen. But it was heavily implied and quite obvious he was bisexual. Or pansexual as he later describes himself, I think.
I'm really quite suprised there aren't many LGBT characters in Star Trek. I mean, it's Star Trek, there's a large LGBT following, as far as I'm aware. Although I guess I could be mistaken in that belief.
It definately doesn't fit with the utopian future either. Although, saying that, they did fit a lot in there, especially in TOS, sci-fi ideas like the Silicon-based lifeform, and comments on society like having no currency, and a russian and a black woman as main characters. And didn't it have the first interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura? Again, not sure if I'm correct in that assumption.

Saying that, it's been around and at the forefront of sci-fi for forty odd years. It's kind of pathetic there isn't a primary LGBT character on the show. It doesn't need to make "plot-sense", it doesn't have to be made a main plot point at all, just have a character reference their sexuality and make it seem like it's a perfectly normal thing.

Sorry for the long post Nerdy Bird, interesting blog post as usual! Loved your San Diego outfits, especially the Red Lantern from last year. I'm going to show my girlfriend the dresses with the comic characters on them you had this year, I'm sure she'd love to make one.