George Takei has revealed he once questioned Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry why the show did not feature any LGBT characters, despite Roddenberry’s strong belief in equality.
“I did very privately bring up the issue of gays and lesbians,” said Mr. Takei, who portrayed Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek original series.
“And he was certainly, as a sophisticated man, mindful of that, but he said – in one episode we had a biracial kiss between Captain Kirk and Uhura had a kiss.”
The episode in question, Plato’s Children, aired back in 1968 and the crew of the starship Enterprise met a planet of beings known as the Platonians who displayed the power of telekinesis. Famously, William Shatner (who portrayed Captain Kirk) crossed his eyes and made goofy expressions at the camera, ruining the other takes and forcing NBC to use the kiss.
“That show was literally blacked out in the south – Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi… George didn’t air that; our ratings plummeted,” Takei explained.
“I twas the lowest-rated episode that we had, and Roddenberry said, “I’m treading a fine tight wire here. I’m dealing with issues of the time. I’m dealing with the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and I need to be able to make that statement by staying on the air.”
“He said, “If I dealt with that issue I wouldn’t be able to deal with any issue because I would be canceled.”
The actors themselves generally received positive attention from the episode, with Nichelle Nichols commenting she’d received a flood of positive fan mail and letters after the episode had aired.