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Trek’s Takei boldly comes out of the closet

Actor George Takei, who played helmsman and later Captain Sulu in the Star Trek TV series and six movies has publicly come out as a gay man.

In interviews with the Associated Press and the Los Angeles-based Frontiers magazine he said his current role, playing a psychologist in a stage version of Equus helped him with the decision to make his private life public, especially considering the current political situation in the United States.

Takei said he felt it is important as a public figure to take a stand now that politicians are pushing for laws to restrict the rights of gay and lesbian Americans.

At age 68, Takei has been with in a relationship with his partner Brad Altman for 18 years. He said the current fear-mongering some politicians have against gays is similar to fear-motivated racial segregation of the past.

He knows what it feels like to suffer from government sanctioned prejudice from first hand experience. A Japanese American born and raised in California, Takei and the rest of his family were rounded up by U.S. government officials and sent to live in ethnic internment camps during World War II.

In an interview with Frontiers magazine, Takei explained what it was like to be a child growing up in the camps.

“I remember the barbed wire and the guard towers and the machine guns, but they became part of my normal landscape. What would be abnormal in normal times became my normality in camp. We had to line up three times a day, and take our meal in a noisy mess hall – normal for me to go to school in a black tarpaper barracks, and I used to begin school every morning pledging allegiance to the flag, and I could see the barbed-wire fence out there, and the guard towers, saying, ‘With liberty and justice for all,’ without being aware of the irony of those words.” Takei said in the Frontiers interview.

Takei spent ages 4 to 8 locked behind barbed wire fences, a prisoner of the anti-Japanese hysteria that swept the county during the war. He told reporters that blind prejudice against a person based on their race or sexuality is “against basic decency and what American values stand for.”

He says he believes in religious freedom and that he respects a person’s faith if they personally believe that homosexuality is a sin. But he draws the line at them using their religion to wall off fellow Americans from the freedoms enjoyed by everyone else. “For them to impose that on the rest of society, the rest of America, I think is just as corrupt as the segregationists trying to impose racial segregation in the South,” Takei said in the Frontiers interview.

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