Star Trek ‘fan’ hurled vile homophobic abuse at gay Discovery actor Wilson Cruz

Wilson Cruz as Culber.

Beloved Star Trek: Discovery actor Wilson Cruz has revealed that a person called him a homophobic slur while he was on stage at a fan convention.

The out gay actor plays Dr Hugh Culber on the hit show, who together with Lieutenant Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) mark the first openly gay characters in a Star Trek TV series, as well as the first to be in a same-sex marriage.

The prominent queer representation has been celebrated by fans who’ve long cherished the show for its progressive values – but it seems at least one viewer is confused about what Starfleet actually stands for.

Cruz encountered the so-called fan on 8 September as he attended “Star Trek Day”, a Los Angeles event celebrating the 55-year-old sci-fi franchise.

Days later the actor shared a photo of himself on a panel, smiling. “I wonder if this was the moment on stage when I heard a ‘fan’ on Star Trek Day refer to me with a homophobic slur,” he tweeted.

“Still smiling, though. You’ll never kill my joy.”

At least one attendee claims that the person who said the anti-gay slur was a woman, and that someone seated next to this person got up and left in disgust, but that account has not been corroborated.

Cruz’s experience prompted hundreds of responses from furious Trekkies who were quick to point out that such blatant homophobia is a contradiction of the show’s philosophy.

“This is horrible. They obviously don’t understand the meaning and intent behind Trek,” wrote one.

“What I love about Trek and the community overall is how people are so accepting and supportive of one another. How you guys try to embody the very essence of the show. Bigotry has no place here.”

Many questioned why the bigoted person hadn’t been thrown out of the event. A representative for CBS Television declined to answer this when approached by Forbes, but said they were “obviously horrified” to hear of the incident.

Had the event organisers been made aware of the comment, it never would have been tolerated, the insider said.

These comments were echoed by Jennifer Caballero, a spokesperson for the Skirball Cultural Center which hosted the event. Speaking to the publication on Monday (13 September), she insisted the venue is “truly a place that is welcoming and inclusive”.

Star Trek

Star Trek: Discovery actor Wilson Cruz at Star Trek Day in Los Angeles (Twitter/@wcruz73)

Over on Twitter, Cruz pleaded with fans not to focus on the negatives.

“Listen, y’all… I really don’t blame the event,” he said. “I only heard it. Couldn’t point them out, so chose to ignore it. I DON’T blame the EVENT at all! That day wasn’t about them and it wasn’t about me. It was about Star Trek, its legacy, its ideals, its visionary creator.

“I REALLY didn’t mean for this to blow up,” he continued. “It just means we have work to do. Let’s do it and move beyond this trivial moment. They’ve received enough attention, as it is. I’m grateful for ALL of your care. I forget sometimes how much this fandom can go to bat when it wants.”

In a later conversation with Forbes Cruz said he regretted speaking out as “the moment is not worthy of all of the attention it’s getting”.

“I have spoken to the parties that be and we’ve discussed it at length,” he said. “The fact of the matter is that I could never identify the person. I just heard it as I was walking out and it was almost like: ‘Did I really hear what I think I just heard…?’

“It wasn’t ‘shouted’ at me, as some are now claiming. I would’ve absolutely made an issue of it if I had been able to confirm the person, but I can’t, so I really meant it when I said I wanted to move on. I don’t hold anyone at CBS, Paramount or the event staff responsible.

“I just want people to know that our work isn’t done, and that even in Trek, we must stay focused on telling the truth about who LGBTQ people are.”