Oh my! Why George is glad to be Takei…


Takei

The September/October issue of Winq is out now, and includes an exclusive interview with Hollywood legend George Takei, aka Star Trek’s Captain Sulu.

As Star Trek’s Hikaru Sulu he was the finest helmsman in the galaxy, but it’s as himself that George Takei has won hearts and minds, along with the unlikely respect of US shock jock Howard Stern. He’s a fierce campaigner for LGBT and civil rights and, on a recent visit to London, spoke only to Winq magazine:

On how Arnold Schwarzenegger drove him to come out:

When Arnold Schwarzenegger ran for the Governor of California’s office he ran by saying “I’m from Hollywood, I’ve worked with gays and lesbians, some of my best friends are gay.” I assumed, therefore, he was pro-gay. But when the Marriage Equality Bill landed on his desk he played to the reactionary conservative element of the Republican party and vetoed it. Both Brad [George’s husband] and I were raging, our blood was boiling.

That night, we saw all these young people pouring out onto Santa Monica Boulevard, venting their rage against Schwarzenegger. They inspired me. I’d spent a lifetime being silent on the issue… now I had to speak up.”

On using humour as a weapon against homophobia:

I’ve learned over the years that you don’t necessarily make a point with teeth-gritting seriousness; sometimes tongue-in-cheek puts the issue into the larger context. Hence my response to the absurd Tennessee ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill in 2011 [which suggested teachers would be criminalised for using the term gay]. I made a video suggesting we replace ‘gay’ with ‘Takei’ (pronounced correctly it rhymes) – as in ‘glad to be Takei’ or ‘that’s soooo Takei’.

On his internment aged just five years old:

We looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbour, so my family and I were sent to an American internment camp. It was terrifying to see soldiers with bayonets on their rifles stomp up to the front porch and order us out of our home. It was frightening, I didn’t understand what was going on.

Later, as a teenager, I realised we had essentially been imprisoned, and the history books I read spoke only of the American ideals of democracy, but said nothing about incarceration. My father explained that the price of living in a people’s democracy was that it could be as great as you can be, but also as fallible as we are.”

On his relationship with husband Brad, the subject of a new documentary – To Be Takei, available to download on iTunes:

We’re like any couple: we have our occasional differences and quibbles, sometimes darn-right, knock-down, drag-outs. But we have a policy that, at the end of the day, before we go to bed, we give each other a kiss. You get over it, and that kiss will lead the way…”

The full interview, a compelling read, touching on his Star Trek co-stars, his guest slots on the Howard Stern radio show that made him a darling of blue collar America and an unlikely musical project about his internment – Allegiance – can be found in the new issue of Winq, at all good newsagents, on mail order or to download to your phone or tablet at www.winq.com.