Iconic gay actor George Takei revealed that he came out publicly because he was livid with then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The 85-year-old Star Trek star told the British theatre publication The Stage that he came out in 2005 because Schwarzenegger, who served as California’s Republican governor from 2003-2011, had vetoed legislation that would have allowed same-sex marriages in the state.
At the time, he and his now-husband Brad Altman had been together for more than 18 years.
Takei explained that he hadn’t come out sooner because he wanted to continue receiving roles, The Stage reports.
“I learned at a young age that you couldn’t be an openly gay actor and hope to be employed,” Takei said. “And I was already an Asian-American actor, so I was already limited a lot.”
Takei spoke candidly of regrets he had for holding onto the secret for so long.
“I was silent during the AIDS crisis, which fills me with guilt, although I did write checks and checks to AIDS organizations,” the actor said.
Schwarzenegger, he said, displayed a hypocrisy that Takei could not stomach.
“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. “I was so angry that I spoke to the press for the first time as a gay man at the age of 68.”
He has advocated for LGBTQ+ rights and Asian-American actors since then, and he's become a fixture on social media. The octogenarian has more than 13 million followers across Facebook and Twitter.
Takei is currently acting in a London production of Allegiance, a musical based on his life experiences, including his time imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp in the U.S. as a child during World War II.
The show is at Charing Cross Theatre.
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