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Attitude Icon Award: George Takei

For years, 'Star Trek' legend George Takei had to hide his true self - but now he’s a leading light in gay activism.

By Steve Brown

George Takei has been honoured with the Icon Award at the Virgin Holidays Attitude Awards 2018, powered by Jaguar.

Best known for starring as Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the USS Enterprise in the original Star Trek TV series, Geroge was forced to live a secret life during the show’s run in in 1960s, staying silent about his sexuality for fear of jeopardising his career.

It wasn’t until October 2005, inspired by the political activism of the fight for marriage equality when then California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed same-sex marriage, that George came out publicly, revealing that he had been in a relationship with Brad Altman since 1989.

Since coming out, he has been a leading voice in the fight for LGBT equality LGBT community and in Attitude’s November Awards issue, the actor, now 81, recalls the darker days of secrey early in his career.

“Stonewall happened in 1969. It was exhilarating and galvanising, but at the same time there I felt guilty because I wasn’t out,” he says.

“There were these guys who were sacrificing everything. There I was protecting my career, my passion, while these guys were actively participating in that process of democracy.” 

George goes on: “At that time, Star Trek was a very lowrated show and there weren’t too many [gay men he met] who recognised me, and I’d ask the few who did to keep it quiet and they honoured that.

“There were some who I went out with, and you’d trust them but at the same time… One of the things you live with as an actor is that constant contained anxiety that you’re gonna be outed.

“I passionately love my acting career and I knew that I would not have it if I was outed; you could not be a working actor.”

Read more about the winners from the Virgin Holidays Attitude Awards 2018, powered by Jaguar in the November Awards issue of Attitude, out now.

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