LGBT History Month Profiles: George Takei
George Takei - born April 20, 1937
A third-generation Japanese American, George Takei was born in the immigrant neighborhood of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles to parents Emily and Norman. When he was five, like nearly all Japanese Americans during World War II, his family was placed in an internment camp; they lived through three such camps before the war was over. He was a graduate of Los Angeles High School and the University of California, Los Angeles, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theater.
Takei started his career as a voice actor, dubbing characters from the "Godzilla" movies into English for American audiences. He appeared in the films "Hell to Eternity" (1960), "A Majority of One" (1961), "Red Line 7000" (1965) and "Walk, Don’t Run" (1966).
The tail end of the 1960s was Takei’s breakthrough period, as he starred in the television series "Star Trek" (1966-69) as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, and in the film "The Green Berets" (1968) opposite film legend John Wayne. Takei is still widely recognized for his contribution to the Star Trek universe and continues to participate in projects relating to the franchise.
In the 1970s, Takei turned to politics, and was appointed by then-Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley to serve on the board of directors for the Southern California Rapid Transit District. He was part of the team that helped plan the Los Angeles Metro Rail (which eventually opened in 1990).
In 2005, Takei came out of the closet and revealed that he had been in a relationship with another man for the past 18 years. He became a Human Rights Campaign ambassador in 2006, and in 2007 he earned a new generation of fans by becoming a viral sensation, drawing attention to NBA player Tim Hardaway’s anti-gay statements in a mock public service announcement. He would go on to make similar videos calling out Arkansas school board member Clint McCance in 2010 and the Tennessee legislature (for the "Don’t Say Gay" bill) in 2011, cementing his status as a witty activist on social media. Indeed, he has over four million fans on Facebook.
Most recently Takei was lauded for coming to the defense of Miss America Nina Davuluri (an Indian-American), who was suffering from a barrage of racist tweets and other similar comments on social media.