Star Trek Producer Laments Lack of Gays

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Star Trek Producer Laments Lack of Gays

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One of the most prominent Star Trek writer/producers thinks that the forward-looking series missed its mark by never portraying homosexual characters as part of daily life in the future.

It's really difficult to imagine just how socially groundbreaking Star Trek was when the original series first aired in 1966. The primary cast included a black character (a black woman, no less) during the days of the civil rights movement, and she was soon joined by a Russian - which was quite forward-looking indeed during the days of the Cold War. The franchise has tackled issues like racism, gender equality and the like - but one thing it never dealt with was homosexuality.

In 1991, series creator Gene Roddenberry told The Advocate that the next season of The Next Generation would feature gay characters as part of everyday life on the Enterprise-D, but his death meant that those promises never materialized. Speaking with AfterElton, Brannon Braga - one of the franchise's most high-profile writers and producers - said that the failure of Star Trek to tackle homosexuality was something that he and his coworkers regretted.

"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," said Braga. "There were people who felt very strongly that we should be showing casually, you know, just two guys together in the background in [the Enterprise's cafe] Ten Forward."

In the end, the creative team opted not to do it (obviously), which Braga attributes to it being a different day and age before Will and Grace and Queer Eye. "I think those same people would make a different decision now ... It was not a forward thinking decision."

That said, Braga isn't quite sure if a gay character would fit well in a new Star Trek movie as opposed to a multi-season TV series. "With a TV series you're creating a whole world, you're creating a whole. You were saying, if this is going to last for five years, and if you don't go there, then yes you got some questions. A two-hour movie and you're sitting there and you're eating your popcorn, if doesn't fit ... if it's not part of the story, it's not part of the story."

Star Trek fans will note that any time the series did approach the issue - Riker falling for an alien with no gender, or the wonkiness with Trill symbiote hosts of different genders - it was pretty much a cop-out.

It's also worth noting that where Brannon Braga believes the series missed its mark, fandom (and the internet) picked up the slack. Slash fanfiction pretty much started with Kirk/Spock, and it's only gotten more prolific from there. Gene Roddenberry never did get a homosexual couple on the screen, but without him we might not have legions of Kingdom Hearts fans writing heartfelt romance between Sora and Riku, right?

(AfterElton)

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Will & Grace.

Why do you torment me, Funk?

Why make me recall that show?

I have to torture you now.

OT:

That out of the way, Star Trek was way ahead of it's time in so many other ways, that I don't missing this one thing is worth lamenting.

Changlings were pretty homo. Their home planet was just a massive bi-sexual orgy.

Thank you very much.

I think the lack of Axecop's has a higher priority.

OT: I don't care gay/straight/bi/transgender pirate character so long as the character is interesting.

I lament what Brannon Braga did to the franchise.

So it's tragedy all around, I guess.

If you say gays on TV I'd think "Will and Grace" and then punch you in the bullocks for reminding me.

Too bad there aren't asari in star trek ;p

With Kirk always knee-deep in pussy, would anyone have ever noticed anyway?

/headdesk

Possibly the one thing Trek didn't need was more sexuality of any sort. Or did we want another Decontamination Gel scene? The whole thing was subtexted that everyone jumped into bed with everyone else.

yeah with the time that the orignal startrek was released...the show would have been taken off the air if they did open gay relationships.
hell TNG would have been hit hard if it had done that as well...

I don't think the DS9 episode was a cop-out, in fact I think it's very positive that the homosexual element of Jadzia's and Lenara's relationship was a non-issue - and they still managed to deal with the issue symbolically.

If you want a cop out I'd direct you to SG-1, where the producers announced weeks after an episode aired that one of the characters was homosexual . . . . it was never mentioned or implied during the episode and the character was killed off so nothing more would happen with this.

The_root_of_all_evil:
/headdesk

Possibly the one thing Trek didn't need was more sexuality of any sort. Or did we want another Decontamination Gel scene? The whole thing was subtexted that everyone jumped into bed with everyone else.

Toning down the fanservice would've been great. But I still would've liked Star Trek to acknowledge homosexuality in some capacity, its not something I hold the against the show anyway it just would've been nice.

Does the past tense of Braga's comments mean Star Trek is done? FOREVER!?

Yes, no homosexuality to discuss here...
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No, not at all. All of the characters are perfectly straight...

(let's not take this out of context, shall we? I know George Takei is gay, and that doesn't make him any less of an actor, or this particular scene any less gay).

I think it's best that they didn't thump that bible too hard. TNG had it's preachy episodes and I barely tolerated those but when they did go with homosexual episodes (The Outcast, the TNG and DS9 lesbian Trill episodes), I always skip those episodes on DVD.

thethingthatlurks:
Yes, no homosexuality to discuss here...
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No, not at all. All of the characters are perfectly straight...

(let's not take this out of context, shall we? I know George Takei is gay, and that doesn't make him any less of an actor, or this particular scene any less gay).

Aw, Ninja'd

OT: Seriously never thought about the lack of gays in Star Trek. But while we're on the subject of that show's diversity. How come there weren't more aliens in the crews of the human ships? I mean if you want more diversity...

John Funk:

In 1991, series creator Gene Roddenberry told The Advocate that the next season of The Next Generation would feature gay characters as part of everyday life on the Enterprise-D, but his death meant that those promises never materialized.

It may not have fully materialised but it was there, in the background.

imageimageimage

I know it's not exactly the same as being gay, but cross dressing crew members was pretty forward thinking for a mainstream TV show at the time. I think it even says something by having those characters in the background, as part of everyday life, but not drawing attention to them or making a big deal out of their appearance.

Jamash:

John Funk:

In 1991, series creator Gene Roddenberry told The Advocate that the next season of The Next Generation would feature gay characters as part of everyday life on the Enterprise-D, but his death meant that those promises never materialized.

It may not have fully materialised but it was there, in the background.

imageimageimage

I know it's not exactly the same as being gay, but cross dressing crew members was pretty forward thinking for a mainstream TV show at the time.

Umm....those are just different uniforms. Those uniforms do not label them as gay.

Disaster Button:
But I still would've liked Star Trek to acknowledge homosexuality in some capacity, its not something I hold the against the show anyway it just would've been nice.

It did.
Worf and Dax were both male. The Binarrs. Q. It had a Hologram and a Borg in a romantic tryst for Khan's sake.

Problem is that if you go "THEY ARE GAY!", then you've not just alienated the entire fanbase (who love deciding which way they ACTUALLY are) and the homosexual community because you've just dedicated that entire character to Flanderising gay people everywhere.

You're not telling me there wasn't a relationship brewing between Bashir and Garrick anyway.

Maybe in the future they found the 'cure'?
Naw, but considering all the stuff Trek did address, I won't hold this against the franchise. And the DS9 was plenty intense even if it was a 'cop-out', it was about forbidden passion, not homosexuality in particular.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Disaster Button:
But I still would've liked Star Trek to acknowledge homosexuality in some capacity, its not something I hold the against the show anyway it just would've been nice.

It did.
Worf and Dax were both male. The Binarrs. Q. It had a Hologram and a Borg in a romantic tryst for Khan's sake.

Problem is that if you go "THEY ARE GAY!", then you've not just alienated the entire fanbase (who love deciding which way they ACTUALLY are) and the homosexual community because you've just dedicated that entire character to Flanderising gay people everywhere.

You're not telling me there wasn't a relationship brewing between Bashir and Garrick anyway.

Oh no, I'm all for subtelty of course. Having a character walk on screen and announce his/her sexuality compounds the problem, it doesn't fix it.

I should clarify, I wish they'd shown it in Voyager. Although it was sorta touched on in the Body and Soul episode.

Love the picture :D

While it never bothered me, I think it would've been interesting seeing how homosexuality fit into the Star Trek Universe.

The_root_of_all_evil:

Problem is that if you go "THEY ARE GAY!", then you've not just alienated the entire fanbase (who love deciding which way they ACTUALLY are) and the homosexual community because you've just dedicated that entire character to Flanderising gay people everywhere.

I just felt I should ask, how exactly did you come to this conclusion? No seriously, explain to me how a sow simply stating "this character is gay" would turn that character into an insane parody of gay people.

Hungry Donner:
If you want a cop out I'd direct you to SG-1, where the producers announced weeks after an episode aired that one of the characters was homosexual . . . . it was never mentioned or implied during the episode and the character was killed off so nothing more would happen with this.

Which character is this? I don't remember that. Not that I caught all the news, but I'd think I would have seen that announcement.

Meh, it never really occurred to me. I think it would have been pretty stupid to have one of the characters just randomly go "I'M GAY!" I mean people don't (normally) do this in real life.

The_root_of_all_evil:

You're not telling me there wasn't a relationship brewing between Bashir and Garrick anyway.

Darn it, you ninja'd me. Garak's actor always said that he portrayed the character as gay, and there's some scenes where it's painfully obvious behind the scenes that they wished they could openly portray their attraction to each other and tackle the issue, but feared backlash.

I thought Sulu and the Captain were making a fine homosexual couple in a casual sense.

I believe that by not paying any attention to it at all then they are making sure that in the future it is everyday and not even worth mentioning. Which would be a million times more important then having a main character becoming screaming gay and prance across the screen. Re-enforcing stereotypes is bad for everyone. I am sure one of the Species 8472 is a hexasexual.

IAmTheVoid:

The_root_of_all_evil:

You're not telling me there wasn't a relationship brewing between Bashir and Garrick anyway.

Darn it, you ninja'd me. Garak's actor always said that he portrayed the character as gay, and there's some scenes where it's painfully obvious behind the scenes that they wished they could openly portray their attraction to each other and tackle the issue, but feared backlash.

It was the original intent for Garak to be gay but they changed their mind. If you recall he does later date Dukat's daughter.

Jamash:

John Funk:

In 1991, series creator Gene Roddenberry told The Advocate that the next season of The Next Generation would feature gay characters as part of everyday life on the Enterprise-D, but his death meant that those promises never materialized.

It may not have fully materialised but it was there, in the background.

imageimageimage

I know it's not exactly the same as being gay, but cross dressing crew members was pretty forward thinking for a mainstream TV show at the time. I think it even says something by having those characters in the background, as part of everyday life, but not drawing attention to them or making a big deal out of their appearance.

...wait there was cross dressing...never noticed, perhaps they just ran out of male uniforms for those particular scenes?

I would agree. A real missed opportunity.

kickyourass:

I just felt I should ask, how exactly did you come to this conclusion? No seriously, explain to me how a sow simply stating "this character is gay" would turn that character into an insane parody of gay people.

As was stated, Flanderization, every other character has it on their most noticeable trait. Or you can try and name me a Pakistani, Homosexual or Gamer that has been presented fairly by the media. Or a Furry, Mormon etc. etc. etc.

WilliamRLBaker:
yeah with the time that the orignal startrek was released...the show would have been taken off the air if they did open gay relationships.
hell TNG would have been hit hard if it had done that as well...

Uh... TNG was hit hard for so much as implicating a gay relationship. The fact that in the episode that first introduced the trill ("The host), Beverly fell in love with the trill in the episode.

When the symbiont's host died, it got implanted in Riker, which was awkward, but then the new host turned out to be a woman.

You would not believe the amount of complaints that episode got just because Beverly kissed this female host...

So... Yeah. Reactionary much? (And yet, a few years later, nobody cared when Jadzia Dax had a fairly similar scene.)

I remember one of the producers responding to criticism about this before, and his response was simple enough 'what would you like us to do? Have them sashay up and down the corridors?'

Yes they could maybe have introduced a gay main character, but even then they would have been accused of crass sensationalism whenever the issue came up. If it was a background character it wouldn't be enough, if it was a main character it would have been too much, this was one issue they were never going to win.

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