After soaring through the galaxy, George Takei becomes an activist on earth
Recognised by many as Mr. Sulu from the original Star Trek, George Takei has also created a name for himself as the actor-activist, who combats ‘idiocy with humour’.
An outspoken advocate of LGBT and civil rights, George Takei has used his online social media platform, including 9,000,000 likes on Facebook, to promote his innovative campaigns that increase global awareness of past and persistent issues.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2008 veto of same-sex marriage legislation prompted Takei to come out as gay and since then Takei has been an influential LGBT rights spokesperson. Takei is active in US Pride Parades and is critical of the homophobia expressed by politicians and other influential people in the public sphere.
In 2011, the Tennessee state legislature considered a ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which would have prohibited teachers from discussing homosexuality with their students. Takei, recognizing such legislation would be damaging for members of the LGBT community, responded by launching his ‘It’s OK to Be Takei’ campaign. Takei offered his last name (which rhymes with gay) for teachers to use as a substitute for any forbidden words in the classroom.
Moreover, Takei has not only worked alone, but alongside larger organizations. He was a spokesperson for the ‘Coming Out Project’, facilitated by the US’s largest national LGBT political organization, the Human Rights Campaign, later receiving the HRC’s Equality Award. He has also received awards from the American Humanist Association and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for his work in promoting equality alongside embarking on a nationwide speaking tour, ‘Equality Trek’, discussing his life as a gay Japanese American.
Still, Takei has long been a voice for civil rights issues and has been heavily involved in state and community level politics, He was, for example, a member of the advisory committee of the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program. Yet his own passion was shaped by personal experiences. During the Second World War, he and his family spent four years in high security internment camps within the US due to their Japanese origins.He has since helped raise awareness about the treatment of Japanese Americans and as a commissioner on the Japan-US Friendship Commission, he has worked to enrich mutual understanding. TED had also made available Takei’s talk about his experience and how it influenced his creation of ‘Allegiance’, a Broadway Musical.
Furthermore, he has raised issues such as the under representation of minorities on television and in 2000, he declared himself as a Futurist and an Environmentalist, believing he had a duty to make up for the part he played in his heavy consumption of energy, ‘jetting all over our much-beleaguered planet’.
Even if you do not share Takei’s vision, his witty comments questioning the logic of prejudicial attitudes that attracts supporters and reactive spectators alike are well worth a look. I will leave you with this comment, representative of Takei’s humour and unwavering belief in change:
‘Marriage equality took a long time, but, like fine wine, its bouquet is simply exquisite’.
https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/george-takeis-social-media-activism http://www.georgetakei.com/ http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-st-george-takei-star-trek-other-space-lgbt-20150407-story.html http://lgbthistorymonth.com/george-takei?tab=biography http://www.hrc.org/videos/videos-george-takei-receives-the-upstander-award-at-the-2015-hrc-foundation#1 https://www.glaad.org/tags/george-takei