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Star Trek Didn’t Have Gay Characters Because, Uh, It Was The Olden Days

It was a shame for a lot of us that … I’m talking about the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and there was a constant back and forth about well how do we portray the spectrum of sexuality. There were people who felt very strongly that we should be showing casually, you know, just two guys together in the background in Ten Forward. At the time the decision was made not to do that and I think those same people would make a different decision now because I think, you know, that was 1989, well yeah about 89, 90, 91. I have no doubt that those same creative players wouldn’t feel so hesitant to have, you know, have been squeamish about a decision like that.

—Brannon Braga, the Star Trek writer and producer, on why the series never included a homo human nor alien life form

By:           Max Simon
On:           Jan 26, 2011
Tagged: , ,
  • 28 Comments
    • Eric
      Eric

      Oh bullshit. Even if it was “too soon” for Next Generation it wasn’t too soon for Voyager (aired 95-01) or Enterprise (01-05).

      Jan 26, 2011 at 3:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ryan
      Ryan

      And yet they had no qualms showing a “lesbian” kiss (insofar that it was two female actresses kissing)–the excuse was that Jazdia Dax, a female (for those of you non-geeks), was carrying a symbiont whose former host was male who had been married to a woman. So it wasn’t “really” lesbionic! Really!

      Jan 26, 2011 at 3:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaime
      Jaime

      Battlestar Galactica did this beautifully. So get bent ST:TNG.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Austin
      Austin

      Actually, this is sort of inaccurate. While there was never specifically any LGBTQ characters, there was one episode about an alien species that had one gender – any indications of swaying either male or female were punished. Riker fell in love with one who had to “come out” to her alien peers as being female. The whole episode was pretty clearly a metaphor for homosexuality being genetic rather than a choice.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 3:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Austin
      Austin

      Actually, this is sort of inaccurate. While there was never specifically any LGBTQ characters, there was one episode about an alien species that had one gender – any indications of swaying either male or female were punished. Riker fell in love with one who had to “come out” to her alien peers as being female. The whole episode was pretty clearly a metaphor for homosexuality being genetic rather than a choice.

      But yeah, as a whole, it was definitely a problem.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 3:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ChicagoJimmy
      ChicagoJimmy

      I seem to recall an episode where the TNG cast stopped at a planet where the sexual deviants were described as folks who “chose” one gender over the other. Most of the planet’s inhabitants were dual-gendered. It wasn’t a very good episode but it was the closest thing I can recall to a “gay” character or a “gay-themed” episode.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eric
      Eric

      @Jaime:

      What? No they didn’t. All of the homosexuality on BSG is relegated to the special spin-off made-for-tv movie “Razor,” and special short “webisodes” posted to the internet. Homosexuality is never even hinted at within the cannon episodes. The two main homosexual characters are Admiral Helena Cain and Felix Gaeta. The former, one of the most hate-able characters I’ve ever seen written, ends up torturing her female lover when she discovers she’s a cylon. And the later ends up leading a failed (and flawed) mutiny which ends in his shame and execution (and isn’t exactly a likable guy in the first place). Their lovers, Gina Inviere (a Six) and Lt. Louis Hoshi, are the standard “good boy/girl, drawn in by the evil homosexual” characters.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 3:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zach
      Zach

      If I remember correctly, most of the blame for Trek’s deliberate exclusion of gay characters and often rampant homophobia goes to Rick Berman. I believe the episode with the one-gender alien originally had Riker’s alien love interest being played by a man, not a woman. And there were supposed to be nonchalant comments about background characters being married and homosexual – nothing persistent, just the sort of background details pointing to Trek’s utopian outcome. And there was Andrew Robinson – who played his character on DS9 as gay and holding an unrequited love interest in the Dr Bashir. But then, once word reached the upper echelons, they de-gayed the character by giving him a sixteen-year old female love interest.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 5:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Thom Freeheart
      Thom Freeheart

      Thanks, guys. I thought I was the only gay geek on this planet. It’s good to know that there’s something out there.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zach
      Zach

      @Eric:

      The webisodes and Razor canonical as well.

      BSG could have done more to incorporate gay characters into its storyline, particularly since Caprica did it without any issue. But I don’t really get how you can simplify either Cain or Gaeta as being evil, or think they were simply supposed to fulfill some ‘evil gay’ trope for the show. Gina directly murdered members of Cain’s crew, she was complicit in a genocide that killed billions, and she later set off a nuclear device that killed thousands more. I don’t condone her rape and torture by Cain, but I can’t say that I feel that sorry for her.

      As for Gaeta – he was a genuine idealist trying to atone for his past sins, and he let things get out of hand. And he was confronted with two leaders who never hesitated to slap down any dissent. He was no more flawed than any other character on the show, and it wasn’t as if there happy endings abounding at the series finale anyways.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Johnny
      Johnny

      @Austin:
      There weren’t any LGBTQ characters b/c there is no
      such thing as LGBTQ. It is as fictitious a species
      as the Cardassians. Stop making a fool of yourselfr
      by referring to gay people in this manner. You only
      expose yourself as an aging dinosaur and a classist.

      As far as TNG’s fail goes, it is no excuse to say
      that it was “too soon”. Trek is supposed to be ahead
      of the curve, not following behind it. If original
      Trek had had Berman and Braga on staff, Kirk and Uhura
      would not have been able to kiss until the late 1970s.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 6:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Doug
      Doug

      Movies and TV have a long history of portraying gay characters as evil, crazed or otherwise unstable and then have them end up dying. This was a common way of marginalizing the gay community. Star Trek’s homophobia has been written about since the early days of The Next Generation. Their strategy was to merely ignore us in their story. Battlestar Galactica was a bit different. Yes, there were gay characters and many viewers and some in the media were glad to see LGBT characters. But, as has been mentioned in other comments, Cain and Gaeta were portrayed, in varying degrees as evil, crazed or otherwise unstable and end up dying. Typical Hollywood marginalization of the gay community. Berman and Braga certainly were not alone- Ronald D Moore was a writer for Star Trek and “co-re-invented” BSG….

      Jan 26, 2011 at 7:00 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gregger
      Gregger

      DC Fontana had written a script, early STNG, with a male same sex couple where one was infected with incurable parasites that caused the death of one of the couple. She quit the show after the script was declined.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 8:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er
      scott ny'er

      Please. They barely had minority characters on it. So, LGBT characters… that never would have happened.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 9:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Riker
      Riker

      In DS9, the Kira Nerys fron the Mirror universe was openly bisexual, even flirting with her Prime universe counterpart and having a female human in her harem.

      Jan 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Susan
      Susan

      Well, there’s always the new Doctor Who! And Torchwood! No one can contend that they haven’t had their share of gay and lesbian characters and fun. We English have always been ahead of the curve :) Captain Jack rules!

      Jan 26, 2011 at 11:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • adman
      adman

      I have a friend who web cammed with Patrick Stewart in 2003, and he recorded it. It’s the hottest celeb sex tape I’ve ever seen, Patrick is very casual, chatty, is obviously the ideal silver fox and you see him progressively growing more and more turned on, peeling off clothing and displaying himself more as the footage plays out. He had a fairly decent webcam, and he was very good with his positioning and “looking hot” for my friend.
      He had a nice big dick and finished in epic proportions, if you know what I mean. I watched it in disbelief, my jaw on the floor. I was like, “you JO’d with Captain Picard, I can’t believe it! Most people would sell the footage in a heartbeat!” My friend says “Most people don’t have a successful sales career in a a town full of celebs who trust him to deliver the goods and maintain a public profile”. Makes sense to me. Still, GO Patrick Stewart! freakin’ hot daddy!

      Jan 26, 2011 at 11:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Shofixti
      Shofixti

      I must speak up for Babylon 5 that at least strongly implied a relationship between Ivanova and Talia.

      Jan 27, 2011 at 12:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Joseph
      Joseph

      Many of the Trek books that are new and take place after the shows have all ended have gay characters that are mentioned casually and aren’t evil. Worlds of DS9: Trill had a gay man who missed his lover that was killed in the war. And the Mission Gamma series had a crew member who was openly in a relationship with another female back on the station. And they had people ask her “How’s your girlfriend doing without you?” Scifi does tend to be homophobic, but I was raised with it and will die with it. I’m more of a scifi nerd than a gay, anyway.

      Jan 27, 2011 at 2:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smithen Weston
      Smithen Weston

      I always felt that Q exuded a strong queer sensibility. Although, his constant flippancy over the life of man could be an unsavory metaphor about bisexuality.

      Jan 27, 2011 at 6:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kev C
      Kev C

      Gaeta wasn’t a stereotypical bad guy, but poignant, bitter, ill-fated, and totally not a gay stereotype.

      Jan 27, 2011 at 7:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Spike
      Spike

      What next? The LGBT community hating on The Brady Bunch because none of the kids were portrayed as gay. Get over it people. What is the point of looking back and questioning?

      Jan 27, 2011 at 11:15 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • John (CA)
      John (CA)

      @Shofixti: Babylon 5 was far more groundbreaking than Star Trek in many respects. It was implied in dialogue that same-sex marriage is perfectly legal on Mars. Which probably means it is also legal on Earth.

      That was aired in 1997.

      Four years before the Netherlands legalized same-sex marriage.

      Jan 27, 2011 at 11:59 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kitt
      Kitt

      Brannon Braga co wrote with Rick Berman an episode of Star Trek Enterprise which featured a race of people who had a 3rd gender. It described how these third gender persons were treated on their own planet they were considered second class citizens and not given names but only referred to as It. Trip attempts to teach one of them to become just as educated and live life as they would want to have goals in life and climb mountains but the alien society refuses to hear of it and attempts to force her (she later picks the name Charles to be named after Trip) back into conformity, after much conflict it is revealed that she has committed suicide. I remember seeing that episode and thinking about how powerful it was.

      Jan 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • brian
      brian

      @Riker: Only Mirror Kira was the Crazy so it only adds to the undercurrent of deviance that she was all up on various ladies.

      Jan 27, 2011 at 5:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • J
      J

      My memory may be a little faulty here, but considering I’ve been a hard core Trekkie for years…..I doubt I’m wrong.

      I recall a scene, at the end of a TNG episode from about the third or fourth season where a MALE actor playing an alien…hit on Riker, in a shuttlecraft…..when Riker seemed a little uncomfortable the alien in question told Riker…. “I am the female of the species you know” …. Not exactly gay, but it was a male actor….

      Riker turned her/him down, but it’s close

      Jan 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Buzz
      Buzz

      @ J, I’m showing my geeky gayness here, but you are confusing ST:TNG with Farscape. I watched every episode with laser-like focus, couldn’t take my eyes off that smokin’ hot Ben Browder!

      Feb 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LaTo
      LaTo

      I know this is for TNG, but what about Spock and Kirk in TOS? They didn’t say it outright, but it’s there. Gene Roddenberry has even said their love was there, they just didn’t show any sexual intimacy in the episodes because of the times unfortunately.

      Feb 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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