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.
#STLV @4TerryFarrell says Jadzia Dax was pansexual. “The only rule was ‘are you interesting to me, and do I want to know more about you?’” pic.twitter.com/icT21Y0pNN
— 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!
The line “Ladies and gentlemen and invited transgendered species.” does NOT imply transgendered people are a different species. If that were the case, then ladies and gentlemen would also refer to different species. The grammar of the statement fully negates the idea that Data’s quote was somehow offensive to the LGBTQ community.
My understanding is that Data meant “multigendered and nongendered.” However, assuming that two genders are the norm, and anything else is different is biased in it’s own right.
What, no “Amok Time”?
It was written by Theodor Sturgeon, remember? Allegory? Is this thing on?
WHAT. HOW could you get through this list and NOT mention Kirk & Spock? The space husbands? The fathers of fandom? “It gives me emotional security”…”and I do want to go back to the ship…captain”…”this simple feeling”…THE BACKRUB SCENE…THE ENTIRE OF THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK…PLEASE CAPTAIN NOT IN FRONT OF THE KLINGONS…relentless flirting, them being ‘more important than anything…as though he were a part of you’ [THE NOBLEST PART]; ‘lie, cheat, steal…sacrifice you career, your reputation..’ (romantic love defined in ‘Dagger of the Mind’ and fulfilled in TSFS) I mean have you even SEEN Star Trek???? Literally the greatest and most epic love story ever told. And as it’s between two men I THINK it qualifies. :)
Nice to see someone with a brain on this site lol <3
This list was actually quite depressing…
It really is. Imagine what it would be like if we never even had Dax?
The way they made Sulu gay in Beyond still irks me for the same reasons it bothered Takei. Any argument that it was an attempt to embrace equality and honor Takei can be refuted by how it doesn’t honor his artistry – Sulu was written and played to be heterosexual, that understanding informed Takei’s performance choices. Making Sulu the gay character also can be seeing as trading on Takei’s sexuality rather than honoring it, especially as he had refused to give the filmmakers his blessing. The fact that Simon Pegg had to belabor an explanation that the Kelvin incident created ripples throughout the universe, one of which made Sulu gay, just goes to show they really blundered into that situation. There were new characters in that film, any of them could have been written into a same sex relationship.
Seven of Nine has more leeway to be bisexual as she was written to be constantly trying to discover herself after being robbed of an adolescence, and her forays into dating were almost perfunctory and/or brand new to her.
I don’t personally love Stamets or Culber, but they were an important, overdue and welcome milestone for the franchise.
To say Sulu was written as heterosexual is absurd. In the entirety of filmed Star Trek, only once has Sulu shown romantic interest in ANYONE–and it was his mirror-universe self. And keep in mind that BEYOND’s Sulu is ALSO from a different universe. At no point has Sulu’s orientation ever been established or even hinted at onscreen prior to BEYOND, other than mirror-Sulu desiring Uhura–which in no way would rule out his being into men. He has never had an onscreen love story, so your comment about the writing is simply unsupportable. And before anyone brings up his having a daughter, that is entirely irrelevant since gay people can and do have children.
@His Name is Rios This is a valid point. I know that Takei said that he played the character as heterosexual but given that he was never given an onscreen romantic partner would he have really played the character any differently had he been identified as gay? This is just my take as admittedly a heterosexual male so I don’t want to appear dismissive to the challenges or discrimination that any of the LGBT posters on her might have faced in their own lives. It’s just that in the 24th century Sulu wouldn’t have had to face any adversity at all because of his sexual orientation, in the time period he was born into his sexual preference was as trivial as his hair colour or his favourite food so those life experiences wouldn’t inform the portrayal of the character. I personally thought it was a good thing when they made Sulu gay as it retrospectively gave the LGBT community representation going back to the very beginning of the franchise. I know it doesn’t change the fact that Trek had to wait over 50 years before an openly gay character was included in the main cast for a show but I still considered it a positive move and when they inevitably reintroduce the character at some point during SNW there’s no reason why his sexuality can’t be portrayed more honestly.
Takei would have made different artistic choices if he had the understanding that Sulu was gay, Takei has said so himself. It’s an on again/off again scene, but recall that Sulu is infatuated by Ilia in TMP, that always stuck out to me as evidence of writer and actor intentions. Sad that’s nearly all we have to go on – he seems into the female Klingon in TFF and was supposed to have a love interest in This Side of Paradise. That’s really it over the course of the 30 years he was onscreen.
And the thought for having Sulu be gay was well-intentioned and meant to honor him while , but trading on Takei’s own sexuality and expecting plaudits for it is a bit tacky to me, especially since Takei told them not to. The way they squirmed to explain it was awkward too.
Ilia gave off pheromones that drew in those around her. It’s why she took the oath of celibacy. Sulu, like others she met, was reacting to those pheromones. But that doesn’t matter anyway because being attracted to Ilia in no way precludes his liking me.
@His Name is Rios There’s no need to be apoplectic.
Sulu was seen to be interested in Ilia in TMP and the female Klingon in Star Trek V and was the original benefactor of the love story for This Side of Paradise before it was rewritten for Spock. Skimpy evidence but it goes to writers’ intentions. I specifically did not mention Demora because it’s obviously not pertinent. And if Sulu being perennially under-developed is an excuse to overwrite big details, then the actor’s contributions take on even more significance. Again, Takei played Sulu with the understanding that he was heterosexual. He was consulted about whether or not his personal sexuality could be traded on for Sulu in Beyond, he refused, and they did it anyway. How is that not disrespectful to Takei’s artistic choices and a tacky way to go about proclaiming inclusiveness? As for justifying the decision Because Alternate Universe, what made the Kelvin Universe was the Kelvin Incident. It stretches credibility to say that Nero blowing up a starship also affected Sulu’s birth. Technically it could have and technically Pegg’s strained retrofit works, but the way it was done was awkward and unseemly.
You might want to look up the word “apoplectic” before trying to use it again. At no point did I act in any way that would befit that description.
The Kelvin incident could ABSOLUTELY have changed Sulu’s orientation. It changed Chekov’s age and Scotty’s height, after all. Things were different in that universe–and there’s an easy explanation, too. The odds of each set of parents having sex at the exact same moment under different circumstances, and of the same egg being fertilized by the same sperm in that other universe, are astronomical. The fact that Chekov’s age changed illustrates this–his parents produced him at a different time in this universe, and he has curly hair and a thinner frame as a result. So a gay Sulu in that universe is entirely plausible, just like we have a short Scotty and a curly-haired, younger Chekov. The genetic combination that produced them was apparently different. (In Chekov’s case, that’s indisputable, in fact, given his age difference.)
As for Takei’s understanding of the role… frankly, that’s irrelevant to the discussion. Takei didn’t create Sulu, he doesn’t own Sulu, he’s a weak actor anyway, and it’s not his call.
It was a pretty indignant reply, I stand by calling it apoplectic.
I’ve already stated the technicality of Sulu being gay because of the Kelvin is not in question, merely that it is reaching and was only painfully explained once there was public backlash from Takei.
You are again ignoring that the writers went to Takei, asked if they could trade on his sexuality, were denied, and did it anyway. They picked Sulu to be gay because Takei is and used that to their advantage without his permission, and subverted his artistic legacy at the same time. That’s a cold thing for you to defend. It is also a great disservice to the artists who inhabit these characters to say their contributions are “irrelevant.” That’s going completely nuclear on this argument and the role of actors in general, and I could not disagree with you more on the subject.
Stamets and Culber were definitely necessary, even if that necessity makes them the ‘token gays’. And I don’t mean them in particular, but a gay out-of-the-closet couple. No ambiguity there. I’m also thankful for the lesbian couple in the background on Disco, and Jett Reno! Hoping to see more of her (too bad she wasn’t on the list). I guess I can’t realistically hope for more than that, but it would be nice to see a lesbian relationship in the foreground. One that isn’t the result of a sci-fi gimmick, a gag, pandering to straight men, or whatever nonsense it can be twisted into. Unfortunately, I think Disco has filled the ‘gay quota’ for the Star Trek franchise for the foreseeable future.
Jett was brilliant, such a breath of fresh air.
Gayest list I’ve read all day.
Idk about what yins think but I always had the feeling that Dr Bashir was Chief O’Brian’s side piece…
Oh god… Thanks for that laugh!
But Bashir isn’t O’Brian’s type. O’Brian prefers strong partners that have fire. (Keiko, Kira.) Bashir is a bit too delicate for him I’d think. If O’Brian was bi or pan, I’d think Sisko would be more his type. While Garak tries to seduce Bashir.
MAKE PICARD GAY
Gayke it so!
While I understand why you criticize George Takei for his reaction to Sulu being gay in Star Trek Beyond, I think the way Takei was thinking was that the character itself wasn’t gay while the actor portraying him was, so he felt that it was a disservice to the character. But of course he is thinking of the Sulu from his show and this is a totally different product so the producers can do whatever they want with the character.
They have every right, but to my mind it was very disrespectful for them to do it precisely because they asked Takei and he said no. His reasons were entirely sound.
Making Sulu gay in the Kelvin films uses Takei’s personal sexuality without his permission and ignores his artistic contributions to the character. That affects TOS as well, because not everyone who watches the Kelvin films and then the show will know about Takei’s stance on this, and some will look at the character in a way other than he intended, for reasons he objected to. As I said upthread, they technically could do it, but I really don’t think they should have, not without Takei’s consent.
Let’s not forget to mention that Quark was transgender, albeit by half an episode.
Actually, that episode might be better left forgotten.
Think you’re putting the cart before the horse there. A trans person is still trans even if they haven’t had any kind of surgery, it’s not the surgery itself that makes them trans. Quark was just in a *very* elaborate & more “detailed” form of drag.
It’s a real shame they never used Pel again. I thought that was a wasted opportunity.
This might be controversial but I never liked the Dax character or trills that much. I used to dread Trill episodes because most of them were truely awful(not up to the high standards DS9 set I’m afraid). It doesn’t help Terry Farrell’s not much of an actress. She was good at one-liners I’ll give her that.
The Seven of Nine retcon box tick exercise was as embarrassing as it was disrespectful. Thanks for keeping it off the main list.
You seem to think you just made a point.
Pot calling the kettle black at its very best. Succinctly done.
Incorrect. I made a point that was easily understandable.
How terrible that a movie made in the terribly benighted days of, oh, eighteen years ago can’t reflect the very latest diktats of Correct behavior that were handed down, oh, five minutes ago.
And there you have the sickness of our times. People have, at the very least, forgotten the famous line “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” (Never mind that maybe every now and then they got things more right than we did.) No, everything has to be judged by the here and now (or, more precisely, a certain subset of the here and now), or things will be pulled down. Even Data.
The Kirk line, by the way, was a hilarious commentary on the self-regard of, well, Kirk (and, more likely, Shatner). Nothing to do with sex, gay or otherwise. You don’t get that…well, then you don’t get it. And for what?
I think you’re missing the larger point here. LGBT+ folks HAVE been here forever, even in the past era you hold in such high regard. Only now are we finally being treated like human beings. But, this fight isn’t new. “We’re here and we’re queer,” isn’t a new mantra. If you just noticed LGBT folks 5 minutes ago, then welcome to the party. We’ve been here for a while, and we’ve been asking for equality for a while. Like, even before Star Trek existed. George Takei famously spoke with Gene Roddenberry about portraying homosexuals on Trek in the 60s. Roddenberry didn’t only because he felt it would be the final straw to get the show cancelled.
I want Topless Tilly
Not sure if my widescreen tv can handle that!
I don’t disagree with you there, but I don’t see how that’s relevant here…
Hey, ever notice the boys on ENT never rubbed each other in the D chamber? Too bad? ;p
What about the cross dressing crew in the first few episodes of TNG Season 1? There were several Male crew members in short dresses.
That’s not cross dressing that’s called dressing. There is no such thing as cross dressing in the future.
That wasn’t cross-dressing. They were wearing unifoms.
something occured to me on a recent re=watch The scene from “The Cage” where Pike is whining about “a woman on the bridge” upon seeing his new yeoam and He gets shot a hostile look by Number One His response is “No offense Number One, You’re different”. Is Number One trans??
No, but that iteration of Pike was a misogynist!
La Forge and Data? I mean Data did identify as male…and Geordi probed him a lot…