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Star Trek writer wishes he’d included gay roles

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  1. Roddenberry was a guy with great intentions, and as Star Trek matured, the pro-equality message of the show became clearer and clearer, particularly in The Next Generation. From the diplomatic, judicial methods of Picard, respectful but fair accommodation of the traditions of Worf’s Klingon heritage, and people tolerantly enquiring about how Data was different to everyone else and coming to appreciate him as an individual through doing so, I find inspiring the universe portrayed by ST:TNG. I think the programme is often under-appreciated as the firebrand it was. The portrayal of alien species, each with their own idiosyncrasies, history, culture and system of government, is clearly a metaphor for the many nations of the Earth, but they are each assessed by the crew not on arbitrary bigoted criteria and not on culture clash, but on the way in which they treat each-other. The humanity in ST:TNG is an imperfect one, but I’ve always found it as something of a beacon of hope. Gay characters would have been fantastic, and nigh-on unprecedented, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that members of the crew wanted them included. I think subtle inclusion of gay characters as Braga suggested would have made a huge impact. Not only would they be there, no-one would be prejudging them. I think that’s what the show ultimately boils down to. Judging, sure (cause some of those aliens were really pretty nasty), but never prejudging.

  2. ST:TNG is the best star trek series I agree due to the sense of acceptance and trying to understand others and learn about differences and what makes us all the same.
    It had a very human quality to it. If they had of included just a casual male or female couple in the background it would of been great and is something soap operas and shows can’t get right now and don’t think to do and for this guy to get the idea that that’s how we want to be portrayed just normally getting on with things not standing out with stereotypes.

    We all know gay roles never happened because of the network involvement. I always found it hard to believe Wesley crusher was straight lol and Q tho always after women I think he being well Q he wasn’t fussy on gender or race.

  3. The original Star Trek was an incredible achievement. Braga, Berman, Moore, Taylor et al did nothing to live up to that legacy and it is too little, too late to be crying about it now.

    You just have to view some of the episodes Braga wrote/produced to see exactly what his message was. He wrote an episode where newly “human” character 7of9 decided to try dating and the list of potential candidates offered were all male, without even the consideration of anything else. Braga was all about keeping Trek hetero-normative and he is deceiving himself if he thinks differently.

    Gene Roddenberry would have been very disappointed with how his dream was realised.

  4. The Kirk and Spock relationship always had gay undertones.

    Roddenberry always had the wrestling each other.

  5. I seem to recall there was one episode of TNG in which Riker encountered an alien (played by a female actress) who was shunned by the tribe as the rest were hermaphodite or asexual (can’t remember which) and he/she identified as female and had ‘straight’ feelings for Riker.
    I think it was intended as a kind of ‘through the looking glass view of LGBT prejudice’ episode.
    But the idea that Riker was such a prime specimen of manhood he could turn non gender-specific aliens ‘straight’ didn’t quite translate and could simply be passed off as old-school Kirk macho antics.
    The whole thing’s a bit of a muddle as I recall.
    Shame Sulu didn’t come out a bit earlier really!

  6. The Lizzie 12 28 Jan 2011, 10:34pm

    I thought Captain Janeway occasionally showed more than maternal feelings towards Seven of Nine in Voyager. It is a pity the “forward thinking” Star Trek wasn’t more inclusive. I love Star Trek but in the original 1960s series Uhura doesn’t really do much except look very statuesque and beautiful and utter one line: “There’s something on the scanner.” Read Nichelle Nichols’s revealing autobiography for more about this.

  7. Heh, Flapjack already pointed out the episode I was thinking of. It did at least seem a fairly blatant metaphor for LGBT issues, although the ending was rather unfulfilling as I recall. Meh.

  8. there was a script in next generation series 1 with gay characters back in 1987. someone squelched it and all the other mooted bits of gay representation. its nice he realises it was a massive f-ing mistake.

  9. flapjack, jonathon frakes pushed for a man to play that role so that the kiss in that ep would be as big a deal as the uhura/ kirk kiss was. someone squelched the idea :(

  10. We did always have Kirk/Spock…

  11. martyn notman 29 Jan 2011, 9:17am

    Jadzia Dax had a lesbian kiss on DS9 (ok it was with the woman she had loved when she was a man..long story) but it was pretty rare thing to see at the time on tv.

  12. The first lesbian kiss ever to be shown on American TV was in an episode of DS9, the episode is called “Rejoined” and it’s really touching and well done. They broke this taboo for us. And it’s not the only episode about sexuality, as Flapjack pointed out. Plus, in an episode of TNG a transvestite can clearly be seen walking around in the background. These people are not homophobes. They did plenty to help.

  13. I have been, and always will be, your… *ahem* ‘friend’. ;)

  14. If you ask me, the only real, true Star Trek(s) died right along with Gene Roddenberry. Instead of being light-years ahead of their time like Gene was, this article proves that the subsequent writers on Trek were about twenty years *behind* the times.

  15. Hodge Podge 30 Jan 2011, 2:12am

    If there were same sex couples copping off, I wonder if my Tory parents would have freaked out and stopped me watching it as a kid, and I could have ended up a non-Trekkie… a weird thought!

  16. Anyone seen that scene in the original series where Kirk gets a massage from a female crew member but thinks it’s Spock?
    He looks upset when he see’s it isn’t.

    I think Bones should come out in the next film!

    Oh and Janeway was the best Captain.

  17. Jock S. Trap 30 Jan 2011, 11:37am

    Always have to ask:-

    If you had sex a borg drone, would that still be classed as group sex?

    ;)

  18. Jock S. Trap 30 Jan 2011, 11:40am

    Forgot to say, was Always a Star Trek fan, still am but when Battlestar Galactica returned it turn out to be far more superior.

    Mind you a visible gay character only turned up in that when Caprica came out…. Corrr!! :)

  19. martyn notman 30 Jan 2011, 1:27pm

    didnt understand one minute of Galactica! thank god for torchwood, Ianto and Jack naked in the greenhouse..mmm!

  20. @Flapjack – yes I was about to write about that too. I think it was in response at the time to gay rights groups wanting to include gay people. I remember people saying this was answered but in a very “Star Trek” type of way.

    I like TNG very much although it seems slow moving somehow now. I even had a dream about Picard in an amazing action scene the other night.

  21. @Xaria – Yep that sounds like classic Hollywood studio interference.
    Create a screenplay advocating gay equality and then have the studio bosses remove any overt references to gay kissing (“I mean, it’s a family show, right?”).
    Well at least the creative team tried, but having been through the committee stage the result looked a bit half-arsed.

  22. John Curry 31 Jan 2011, 4:27am

    In addition to the the Rejoined episode in Deep Space Nine with the lesbian kiss, there is also another episode within ds9 where there is a female ferengi posing as a man, and Dax notices that ‘he’ has feelings for quark and says its alright and does not phase her at all… later its revealed that she is a woman however

  23. Honestly, like many other LGBT SF and fantasy fans I’ve long since written off the Star Trek franchise as irredeemably homophobic.

    Frankly, given the existence of Doctor Who, Torchwood, Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, all of which are far more inclusive series, who needs Trek? I agree with the comments about Gene Roddenberry, but sorry, it’s much too late.

  24. I’ve always thought the programme was as camp as tits anyway!

  25. @Craig,

    As a gay teenager, Star Trek was what gave me hope for the future, and what eventually gave me the courage to come out to my friends and family. How can you call Star Trek homophobic? Considering first it was never brought up in the series, and secondly they never attacked it either. And please Babylon 5 superior? Babylon 5 was a cheap plagiarism of Deep Space 9.

  26. @kim – wrong way around as DS9 was a cheap rip-off of babylon 5, babylon 5 also had 2 people pose as a gay couple who we’re married, Ivanova thought she fell in love with Talia but the secret spy blew that romance apart

  27. Hodge Podge 31 Jan 2011, 6:11pm

    @Kim Besides, Babylon 5 is just better :-P

  28. @Kim, It’s true that DS9 was a blatant rip-off of B5. JMS pitched his idea for a series about a space station to Paramount and was summarily turned down. Then before he could get it on the air with another studio, Paramount suddenly announces their idea for a new “original” series about a space station which is darker and grittier, where the lead character becomes a religious icon, etc. There were just way too many similarities which prove their blatant plagiarism — the first time that a first officer is female (with a bitchy attitude), characters named Leeta instead of Lyta, Dukat instead of Dukhat, etc. Babylon 5 was light-years ahead of anything that was ever done on Trek.

  29. PumpkinPie 2 Feb 2011, 4:25pm

    Haha, how amusing to see so many other regulars here are Trekkies or sci-fi nerds of various types.

    The episode mentioned previously, regarding Riker getting involved with a member of an androgynous race was called “The Outcast”. Not only did the episode deal with a metaphor for homophobia (and possibly also transphobia), it actually featured what was clearly conversion therapy at its end.

    Riker arrives too late to save his lover, who greets him with a “Stepford smile”, tells him she’s all better now and can’t understand why she felt the way she did before. Some twisted people might percieve this scene as showing conversion therapy “works”, but, given the overall theme of the episode, it seems to me that this ending was intended to be immensely creepy, insinuating that this therapy is essentially just brainwashing.

    Xaria:-
    flapjack, jonathon frakes pushed for a man to play that role so that the kiss in that ep would be as big a deal as the uhura/ kirk kiss was. someone squelched the idea

    Did not know that! Wow, that’s pretty interesting. Good on Frakes, too.

    Apparently, DS9’s Doctor Bashir’s friendship with his Cardassian pal Garak was once intended to have sexual undertones, too. Until executive meddling reared its ugly head, of course. :p

    Jock S. Trap:-
    If you had sex a borg drone, would that still be classed as group sex?

    Ha! Nice one. ;)

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