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George Takei discusses why there weren't any gay characters in space in the 23rd century.

Space. The Final Frontier. Where sexuality is still an unfortunate taboo.

Before George Takei was the source of silly Internet memes, he was known for playing Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu on the original "Star Trek" series.

And "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry was an early champion of diversity and representation. As Takei explains in a recent interview with Big Think, Roddenberry considered the Starship Enterprise to be, "a metaphor for Starship Earth, and the strength of this starship lay in its diversity."

When it came to the show's Asian character, Takei says, Roddenberry didn't want him to be associated with any specific Asian country. He wanted Takei to represent multiple groups in an imagined, idealistic future that had evolved beyond earthly border disputes and superficial racial squabbles.


"The problem [Roddenberry] had was to find a name for this Asian character from the 23rd century because every Asian surname is nationally specific," Takei explains.


GIFset via Big Think.

And that's how Takei's character came to have the name Sulu.

"Star Trek" boldly went where no show had gone before ... but in 1966, it could still only go so far.

The show was undoubtedly progressive for its time. In addition to launching a long-running sci-fi franchise and the careers of several notable actors, "Star Trek" also gave us the first interracial kiss on television.

Captain Kirk (William Shatner) locked lips with Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) in "Plato's Stepchildren," an episode originally broadcast on November 22, 1968. And even that scene only made it to air because Shatner and Nichols purposely messed up the network-requested takes where their characters didn't kiss.

GIF from "Star Trek: The Original Series."

While that's an exciting hallmark to celebrate, and we can appreciate the significance of it today, some people weren't as receptive back then.

GIF via Big Think.

According to Takei, "Our ratings plummeted. It was the lowest-rated episode that we had."

That was just one of the factors that led to the show's cancellation later that year after threeseasons on the air. And, unfortunately, that's also one reason there were no explicitlygay or lesbian characters in the show's idealistic version of the future.

Takei says he did, very privately, bring up the issue of gay and lesbian characters on "Star Trek" with Roddenberry.

And while Roddenberry was, "as a sophisticated man, mindful of that…" he also shied away from addressing LGBTQ issues head-on, in favor of dealing with other issues that he felt were more pressing at the time.

GIFset via Big Think.

Of course, the exclusion of explicitly gay or lesbian characters still didn't save the show from cancellation. (I say "explicitly" because Roddenberry did suggest in William Shatner's 1979 biography that Kirk and Spock could have shared in the "Greek ideal" of love — much to the relief of fan-fic writers everywhere.)

We're certainly on our way to the bright future envisioned in "Star Trek" … but we haven't quite reached that final frontier.

Science fiction shows like "Star Trek" still give us something to aspire to in 2015.

And while things aren't perfect, we're a lot better off than we were in 1968 — a recent GLAAD report points to MTV and FX in particular as having nearly 50% LGBTQ-inclusive programming. But that's only half of the shows on two cable networks that feature queer characters.

Heck, there still hasn't been a queer character on any of the subsequent "Star Trek" series, or the recent movie reboots.

Like Takei discussed with Roddenberry, we know sometimes progress takes a while. There's plenty of work left to do, but it's still nice to know that we're headed in the right direction, and that progress is being made.

And even Takei himself is feeling pretty good about it:


GIFset via Big Think.

Cheers to you, Lieutenant Sulu. Now let's keep going boldly toward that brighter future.

Here's the full video, courtesy of Big Think:


"Freddie Mercury" by kentarotakizawa is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Fans are thrilled to hear Freddie Mercury's iconic voice once again.

Freddie Mercury had a voice and a stage presence unlike any other in rock music history. His unique talents helped propel the band Queen to the top of music charts and created a loyal fan base around the world.

Sadly, the world lost that voice when Mercury died of AIDS at age 45. For decades, most of us have assumed we'd heard all the music we were going to hear from him.

However, according to Yahoo! Entertainment, remaining Queen members Roger Taylor and Brian May announced this summer that they had found a never-released song they'd recorded with Mercury in 1988 as they were working on the album "The Miracle."

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Lacy Marie uploaded a video from her doorbell camera to TikTok her son. The little boy is caught on camera taking the trash out venting about always having to eat chicken. He rants all the way to the trash can, being sure to get it out of his system before he makes it back into the house.

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Since having elected leaders instead of kings is a hallmark of our democratic system, Americans share a common concern for election integrity. But for some, that concern has grown into full-blown conspiracy theories and misinformation about election fraud since before Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential election.

Despite dozens of lawsuits either being dismissed as groundless or lost on their merit in court, people still try to claim that the 2020 election was rife with fraud.

One of the primary targets of those fraud claims is mail-in ballots. People haven't seemed to wrap their minds around how mail-in ballots can be secure and how people can be prevented from voting twice if they happen to have more than one ballot mailed to them.

Turning Point USA field rep Aubrey Savela shared a photo of two official Arizona ballots with her name on them to X, with the caption, "Maricopa county at its finest… My first time ever voting in a presidential preference election and I received not one but two mail-in ballots.Thank you @stephen_richer."

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So, someone who is excellent at remembering random facts won’t just remember that Grant is buried in Grant's Tomb. They will also remember that they learned it on a sunny day while on a walking tour of Riverside, New York.

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Hotel is giving away 10 all-expense-paid trips to help rebuild Patagonia hiking trail

Post your video entry by March 15 for a chance to do some good while exploring one of the world's most stunning ecosystems.

Las Torres Patagonia

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If you've ever seen a photo like this…

hiking trail next to a lake in patagoniaHiking trail at Torres del Paine National Park in PatagoniaLas Torres Patagonia

…and thought, "I have to go see that turquoise water for myself," now's your chance. Las Torres Patagonia is offering an all-expense-paid trip (including airfare) for 10 lucky winners to travel to Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and stay at the all-inclusive Las Torres Patagonia hotel for five days.

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