George Takei, 2024 (left), Tab Hunter, 1955 (right) | Photo Credits: Getty Images

When I was in my early teens, my heartthrob in the movies was Tab Hunter—so many people today do not [recognize that name.] He was a contract actor at Warner Bros., was blonde, good-looking, every movie had him taking his shirt off, and he was my heartthrob!

But I recognized a few ways—how he carried himself and his looks—and I thought, ‘Is he or isn’t he?’ And then a scandal sheet [Confidental] exposed him, and he faded right after that.

That was an abject lesson for me: You cannot be gay and hope to have an active career. And so up went my closet door—well, doors don’t go up! It closed.

I went in the closet because I wanted an acting career. So, he was my first heartthrob, but he also sent me a message: You cannot aspire to be an actor if you’re gay. They won’t hire you. And if you were hired by some fluke, you’ll be not fired but more or less paid away.

And that’s intense, but that’s the way Hollywood was!

George Takei speaking to Queerty about early gay “representation” in Hollywood at the 2024 Critics Choice Association’s Celebration Of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television.

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