George Takei is not one to go down without a fight, as evidenced by his decades-long feud with a former co-star and all of those various space fights. The actor is known for speaking out against things that he doesn’t agree with, and it turns out, that’s the reason he decided to come out as gay in 2005.
In a new interview with The Stage, the Star Trek actor explained the “guilt” that he felt living as a closeted gay man for most of his life. “I was closeted for a long period of my career,” Takei told the mag. “I was silent during the AIDS crisis, which fills me with guilt, although I did write checks and checks to AIDS organizations,” he added.
But Takei didn’t want to be silent any longer when California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called to veto a bill that would’ve legalized gay marriage in 2005 in California. Takei came out that November. He explained, “Why did I come out when I did? Because Schwarzenegger presented himself as a movie star who had worked and was friends with gays and lesbians, many of whom voted for him, but then vetoed that bill. I was so angry that I spoke to the press for the first time as a gay man at the age of 68.” Eventually, Schwarzenegger voted to legalize gay marriage two years later.
Takei said that he felt like he needed to stay silent in order to keep working in Hollywood and didn’t want to jeopardize his chances. He added, “Why did it take me so long to come out? Because I’m an actor and I wanted to work. I learned at a young age that you couldn’t be an openly gay actor and hope to be employed. And I was already an Asian-American actor, so I was already limited a lot,” he said, adding that there is still discrimination in the industry today. “To this day, there are big Hollywood actors who are not out in order to protect their careers.”