Jan 23, 2019

Star Trek

Star Trek (1966-69) represents the beginning of a franchise that eventually encompassed 6 tv series, 12 movies, and an infinite number of tie-in novels, comic books, games, and toys. But at the time I didn't notice.   Either my parents watched something else, or it aired past my bedtime, so I only watched when I slept over with a friend who was a fan.

And I didn't have a lot of friends who were fans.  I didn't see most episodes until reruns started appearing in the 1980s.

I only remember one moment of joy: in the 1966 episode "Naked Time," the space explorers contract a virus that makes them act irrationally. Navigator Sulu (George Takai), imagining that he is D'Artagnon of the Three Musketeers, rushes down the corridor, sword in hand, his chest hard and bronze and gleaming.  

And later, cured, he returns to the room he shares with Ensign Chekhov (Walter Koenig).  Chekhov, already in bed, rises on one elbow.  "Are you ok?" he asks.  "I was worried."  "I'm ok now," Sulu says, sitting next to him.  They smile.

Like the smile shared by Rich and Sean in The Secret of Boyne Castle, it became an iconic memory of my childhood.  I wanted that smile more than anything.

Except the scene never happened.  Chekhov wasn't even in the episode, and he and Sulu were never shown sharing a room.  I invented the memory.

So, what are we left with:

1. A universe where heterosexual desire is a constant.  Remember when they meet early explorer Zephram Cochrane (Glen Corbett), trapped on a planet with an alien energy cloud.  It's female, and in love with him.  

2. An endless supply of alien babes for Captain Kirk (William Shatner) to smash his face against: "Kiss?  What is kiss?"

3. Some beefcake: Kirk got his shirt ripped off in many episodes, occasionally Kirk or another character (such as Frank Gorshin) bulged, and occasionally an alien dude, such as David Soul or Michael Forest,  wear a revealing outfit.  

4. No significant buddy-bonding.  Some people see a spark of homoerotic desire between Kirk and Spock (Leonard Nimoy), but I don't see it.

5.  No gay characters, ever.  Ok, we can forgive the 1960s series, but what about The Next Generation, Voyager, or Deep Space Nine?  Obviously this is a world where gay people are unknown and unwelcome. No wonder my friends and I spent our time watching something else, or listening to The Monkees.  


  1. Spock and Kirk, definitely lovers. Especially in the cartoons.

  2. Definitely Scotty and Spock.

  3. Fan fiction started with Kirk/Spock romances. I really like your idea of a Sulu/Chekcov romance. In the last movie they had Sulu come out as gay - but it was one of those if you blink you missed it moments- now if they had Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto as lovers now that would be hot

    1. I saw that. A momentary scene in which Sulu greets his husband and child. Nothing actually mentioned. George Takei, of all people, protested. He didn't want Sulu to be gay.

    2. did not hear that takei had protested the scene? o__0

    3. Takei was upset because they made the character he created gay, when he was "intended to be straight." But in the 1960s every character on tv was "intended to be straight." I find it odd, and rather homophobic, for a gay person to object to a gay character.

    4. I think it's more him saying "Just because I'm gay doesn't make my character gay." Which it doesn't, of course. Then again, the fandom already imagined Kirk and Spock as bi (Kirk beds two female aliens, and Spock has to orgasm at least once every seven years due to Vulcan hormonal cycles. So, yeah. bi, at least if we want to keep consistent with established canon.), and the future in general as not giving a damn. (And look at people born after 1980.)

      But, after Takei comes out, everyone headcanons Sulu as gay. I can see where he's coming from.

  4. * the syndicated reruns started shortly after the show was cancelled in 1969(?) (if not before). i've heard that the production company (desilu & subsequent entities) got a very sweet deal on the syndication rights from the network.

    then there was a 2(?) year animated saturday morning cartoon trek around 73-4 or so?

  5. This reminds me of Futurama, where Leonard Nimoy goes to a planet with an energy being who is a Star Trek stan.

    TNG has one episode, but it misfired. Riker (And while we're here, Kirk only bedded two female aliens in canon. In the spinoffs, we see this more, albeit initially first officers: First Riker, then Chakotay. Have I mentioned how a character doing something once provides inspiration for subsequent Trek material to be omnipresent, even when it contradicts established canon? Jeffries tubes, bridge consoles lined with C4, overly bellicose Klingons, even Voyager and First Contact changed the modus operandi of the Borg from their first appearance in TNG.) falls in love with an androgynous alien who feels more feminine and is persecuted for it. Funny thing is, Frakes wanted this love interest to be played by a dude to get the point across, but it's the 80s, so, Man-Hating Space Lesbians it is.

  6. I used to love the episodes where Captain Kirk was shirtless and tied up!

  7. David Gerrold wrote a Next Generation episode with gay characters but the producers did not use i- eventually it was done as on of those fan made productions. In the latest Trek there are gay characters

  8. Reportedly, a producer of the spin-off series was virulently homophobic and killed any pro-Gun storylines.

  9. The creator, Gene Rodenberry was very progressive for including black and Asian characters, including the first main cast black character and the first inter racial kiss...which they had to be sneaky about getting on air. Roddenberry tried to get a gay character into the show but was stopped by the studio. Star Trek Discovery has multiple gay characters, and was the first TV show to have a non binary main character.


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