George Takei reveals he came out in fury after Arnold Schwarzenegger rejected gay marriage bill

On the left, George Takei wearing a black suit and grey shirt, standing against a yellow background, doing the Star Trek Vulcan salute. On the right, Arnold Schwarzenegger in a blue suit and shirt, at the annual CES Trade Show, holding his hand out.

Star Trek legend George Takei has revealed that he came out as gay as a direct response to Arnold Schwarzenegger rejecting bills that would have legalised gay marriage in California.

Fellow actor Schwarzenegger was governor of California from 2003 to 2011, and established himself as an early opponent to gay marriage.

In September 2005 and again in 2007, he vetoed bills that would have allowed gay couples in the state to wed. The Terminator star has since said he is “happy” gay marriage is now legal in the country.

Takei came out in 2005 shortly after Schwarzenegger rejected the bill. At the time, the star had already been in a relationship with his now husband Brad Altman for 18 years.

In a new interview with The Stage, the 85-year-old explained his decision was driven by ‘anger’.

“Why did I come out when I did? Because Schwarzenegger presented himself as a movie star who had worked and was friends with gays and lesbians, many of whom voted for him, but then vetoed that bill,” he said.

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“I was so angry that I spoke to the press for the first time as a gay man at the age of 68.”

George Takei in a grey suit jacket and white shirt
George Takei has been a vocal champion of LGBTQ+ rights since coming out publicly in 2005 (Luke Fontana)

George Takei also suggested that he spent a long time in the closet to protect his acting career, adding that many actors do the same — even now.

“Why did it take me so long to come out? Because I’m an actor and I wanted to work,” he said.  “I learned at a young age that you couldn’t be an openly gay actor and hope to be employed. And I was already an Asian-American actor, so I was already limited a lot.

“To this day, there are big Hollywood actors who are not out in order to protect their careers.”

Takei has always been politically motivated, but it wasn’t until he came out that he became a prominent LGTBQ+ rights activist.

He has since expressed guilt at not speaking up sooner about issues facing LGBTQ+ people, recently telling PinkNews that he felt “guilt” that others were fighting for his rights.

“It was a mean society and they were advocating for me, which saddled me with a heavy sense of guilt. I’m deeply indebted to those early pioneers.”

Takei is currently staring in Allegiance at London’s Charing Cross Theatre until 8 April, 2023.

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