More than halfway through Pride Month, the LBGT+ staff here at TrekMovie thought it the perfect time to bring a little gayness into your life. And what better way to unwind during these tough times than with a gay Star Trek marathon?
Writing this article was no easy feat. After all, we had half a mind to just post every Garak scene and be done with it. But, despite Trek not having any openly gay characters for its first five decades, there’s a lot of LGBT+ love to go around.
So let’s work our way from the bottom to the top of this list of LGBT+ moments in Trek.
8. Kirk Makes Out With… Himself? In Star Trek VI
This isn’t exactly a “rah rah we love the gays” moment, but it’s too funny not to include. After Kirk and McCoy were sentenced to life imprisonment on the penal colony at Rura Penthe, they—of course—had to find a way to escape. Helping them was Martia, a seemingly beautiful woman who Kirk didn’t waste any time “getting to know.” Surprise! Martia’s not a lady, she’s… a… both? Neither? She’s a shapeshifter, so really, does gender even apply here?
After shifting into a double of Kirk, the two exchange the fan favorite line:
Kirk: “I can’t believe I kissed you!”
Martia as Kirk: “Must have been your lifelong ambition!”
7. Jadzia Normalizes Gay Romance in DS9’s “Rules of Acquisition”
At least she thought that’s what she was doing. In the episode, Grand Nagus Zek tasks Quark with handling negotiations with a planet in the Gamma Quadrant, but, as Memory Alpha puts it, “Quark’s new associate is not what he seems.”
Pel is the associate’s name. And Pel is super into Quark. Jadzia notices.
Jadzia: “I don’t care what anybody says, I love [Quark]”
Pel: “So do I.”
Jadzia: “You really do, don’t you?”
Jadzia: “Love Quark. Don’t bother denying it. I’ve seen the way you look at him.”
Pel: “Please, keep your voice down!”
Jadzia: “Does he know?”
Pel: “He doesn’t even know I’m female!”
Jadzia: “You’re a woman?”
While you could argue that this isn’t a gay Trek moment (it literally isn’t—that’s the point of the scene), it’s still a message about the general acceptance of LGBT+ people in the 24th century. It’s so commonplace that being gay is less of an issue for Pel than being a woman is. While Dax was already one of the most socially liberal characters in Star Trek, it’s still a nice feeling to see someone assumed to be gay get treated like a normal person.
6. The Entire Mirror Universe
There is absolutely no denying the overt sexuality of folks in the Mirror Universe, and yes, we’re specifically speaking of Kira from DS9 and Georgiou from Discovery. But here is where this section differs from the rest. Just because it’s one of Trek’s “gayest moments” doesn’t mean it’s one of our favorite ones. In fact, as a bisexual woman, I kind of hate it.
Don’t get me wrong: Bisexuality on television is awesome, and I love seeing more of it. But, in this context, it kind of feels like it’s just a goofy facade. You can only be LGBT+ in the alternate universe where—guess what?—you’re also evil and extremely extroverted and kinky as hell. If anything, this just reinforces the tired stereotype that bi folk will have sex with anything that moves. In reality, we’re just as discerning as straight or gay folks—it’s just that gender doesn’t determine whether or not we are attracted to someone. I’m giving this one a big 1/10. One point for trying, -9 points for representing our community in such poor taste.
The rest of the Mirror Universe we are fine with. Bearded Spock? Sparkly gold sashes? ENT crop tops? Um, heck yes!
5. Elim Garak
You know it. I know it. Garak definitely knows it. Garak is gay! Or at least some form of LGBT+++. And this is my article, so I get to include an entire section on Garak if I want to. But seriously, ever since his very first appearance on Deep Space Nine you knew, didn’t you? “I’m a tailor.”? “I’m at your disposal, Doctor”?! Even the actor who played him, Andrew Robinson, has said that he played Garak as “omnisexual.”
I can’t put it better than Andi from the Women at Warp podcast, so I’ll just leave this here:
Andrew Robinson gave Garak such chaotic gay energy that it came through like twenty pounds of prosthetics. A legend, an icon pic.twitter.com/um6hofhPfO
— beach read? lady, i’m tolstoy 🐿🐝🖖 (@FirstTimeTrek) May 15, 2019
4. Sulu in Star Trek Beyond
This was a big moment in Star Trek history: the first openly gay character in Star Trek. It’s quite shocking when you realize that this occurred just four years ago, in 2016. It really took Star Trek that long to do something so… not even really bold any more? And, as we’ve demonstrated here, there have been clearly LGBT+ characters in Trek before, but that doesn’t detract from the importance of this moment, this small blink-and-you-miss-it moment between Sulu, his husband, and their daughter that means finally, it’s official: Star Trek has a gay character!
Of course something like this isn’t without controversy. (Sigh. I look forward to the day that Gene Roddenberry promised us, when the idea of not accepting something like this would be ridiculous in an of itself.) The original Hikaru Sulu, George Takei (who is gay himself) took issue with making Sulu gay in Beyond.
And, dismayingly, the couple was actually supposed to kiss when they greeted each other (like, you know, couples do who haven’t seen each other in a while) but it was cut from the film.
3. Agender Species in TNG’s “The Outcast”
In “The Outcast,” Soren is a member of an androgynous race known as the J’naii. An undeniable chemistry between Soren and Commander Riker reveals that Soren isn’t so androgynous after all, but her community shuns those who conform to either gender. Soren’s impassioned “I am tired of lies” speech at the end of the episode hits on the feelings of so many in the LGBT+ community, and will particularly resonate with transgendered people.
“I AM female. I am not sick because I feel this way. I do not need to be helped. I do not need to be cured. What I need, and what all of those who are like me need, is your understanding and your compassion.”
Other notable agender species, such as the Binars, have graced the franchise, but none have so eloquently put a spotlight on queer issues as Soren. I almost included Data’s famous line said at Troi and Riker’s wedding in Star Trek: Nemesis, “Ladies and gentlemen and invited transgendered species.” It’s a lovely nod to the trans community, but there’s still that suggestion that trans folks are something other than human, so I give it a 5/10 for effort but ultimately a failure of execution.
(For the record, Jonathan Frakes thought that Soren in “The Outcast” should have been played by a male actor, saying, “…if they really wanted to tell the story, they should have cast a man instead of an androgynous woman.”)
2. Jadzia Dax
Sulu’s brief fatherly moment in Star Trek Beyond may have been the first instance of an openly gay character on Trek, but there is no denying that Jadzia Dax was the first openly LGBT+ (emphasis on the plus) character on Star Trek. Jadzia’s sexuality defies our narrow human definitions. She’s not… well, she’s more than a she. Having lived multiple lives as various genders and carrying with her the love and sexual feelings she has had for all of her partners, Jadzia is a walking Pride flag wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a Starfleet uniform. And to boot, her openness to sexuality and love shines bright and even seems to rub off on the people around her.
Even the actress who played her, Terry Farrell, said herself that she feels Jadzia is pansexual, on stage at the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. I covered that event and remember the swelling of joy I felt upon hearing her say it. To have Terry validate this aspect of her character means so much.
— TrekMovie.com (@TrekMovie) August 1, 2019
Indeed, Dax’s entire existence could fill this section, but we’ll also highlight a couple of key “gay” Dax moments throughout Deep Space Nine. The first is the famous “gay kiss.” Shared affection between Dax and her former wife leads to the pair struggling with their newly rekindled feelings of love for each other when they reunite. What will everyone else think? In the Trill community, these reunions are taboo. It highlights some real life struggles of the LGBT+ community, and it’s just so beautiful.
The second moment comes from the fifth season episode “Let He Who Is Without Sin…” in which the gang takes a relaxing vacation. While Worf joins some extremist group (!?!?!?), Jadzia meets up with one of Curzon Dax’s old lovers, Arandis. The two share some fun moments, including the recreation of the clay pot scene from Ghost. I mean, come on. This is WAY too gay not to mention.
(Side note: Arandis was played by Vanessa Williams, who gained fame in 1983 as the first Miss America to be Black, and the first one to lose her crown, when Penthouse Magazine published nude photos of her with another woman. Her whole life was turned upside down and she found herself having to say, “I am not a lesbian and I am not a slut” in People Magazine. But guess what? She went on to become a hugely successful actress and Grammy-nominated singer, and then did this scene, hopefully as a bit of a slap in the face to those who judged her back in the 1980s.)
Finally, there’s just Dax being Dax. In one small line, she shows what it means to be trans and be accepted by your community. The lesson here? Be more like Kor.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t shout out a piece of Star Trek’s history in how the trans community is portrayed. We got our first taste of the Trill in the Next Generation episode “The Host.” The ending isn’t so happy for all of our characters. In the end, this episode is basically Star Trek acknowledging that it itself wasn’t ready to be open to gay characters, when Beverly admits that her unwillingness to consider continuing a relationship after her boyfriend transitioned is her own failing. “Perhaps, someday, our ability to love won’t be so limited,” she says.
1. Culber and Stamets
Coming in at the number one top gayest moment in Star Trek couldn’t be anything except for the relationship between Hugh Culber and Paul Stamets. The first openly gay characters on a Star Trek television show. FINALLY! Not just a gay moment, but a full-on loving gay relationship and with characters that aren’t just tired old stereotypes! Say what you will about Discovery, this is one thing they got just plain right: two people who love each other. It’s not made a big deal of. There’s no spotlight. It’s just the two of them living a normal life.
Nothing encapsulates how awesome this relationship is than the fan favorite toothbrushing scene. Just two people in love, living together and brushing their teeth (in matching pajamas!). Like normal people in love tend to do.
Picard Shoutout: Seven and Raffi
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the most recent LGBT+ depiction in Star Trek on Star Trek: Picard. We’re talking about the shared moment at the very end of season one between Seven of Nine and Raffi. The two seem to have cultivated a relationship, and I for one couldn’t be happier for them. Since we haven’t seen much more of this new coupling, I’ll leave it here in the “honorable mention” slot for now. Who knows, maybe season two will treat us to more of the pair and their relationship together. In any event, it’s great to see more of this in Trek!
What’s your list?
This was just our take. Tell us what we missed in the comments!