Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Take us out, Mr. Sulu

George Takei is getting married! Yay!

Now that California Supreme Court has ruled that all Californians have the right to get married, Takei and his partner of 21 years are fulfilling their dream wedding. As you might have guessed, George Takei is one of my heroes. When I was growing up, we watched all the shows that featured Asian people, even if we didn't like them, simply because, I realize now, my mom was lonely for faces that were familiar to her. So we were regular watchers of Quincy, M.E. for Robert Ito and Star Trek for Takei. We watched that awful Shogun miniseries and Hawaii 5-0 and anything that remotely had an Asian cast. But I was always a fan of Star Trek, because I'm a big nerd, and my favorite episodes were Sulu-heavy (The Naked Time, which features a hot Takei brandishing an epee and Shore Leave, where he gets the girl. (Huh, I didn't realize that Sulu was actually haafu -- half-Japanese and half-Filipino. Go figure!) Anyway, he was always a hero of mine when I was growing up. Here was this guy who looked like me who was steering the Starship Enterprise and doing all sorts of heroic deeds. He was not a red-shirted ensign who would die in any episode, but permanent! When I was growing up, I never had any idea that the world would give people like me any shit, because there was Mr. Sulu in that spot, and if Mr. Sulu was there, if Sam from Quincey was there, hell if Margaret Cho was there, why couldn't I be there someday, too?

When Takei came out a few years ago, I was happy that he was taking that brave step to again lead people forward. And now he's getting married! He wrote about it on his blog and compared the laws that prevented GLBTs from getting married to same-gender partners to the discrimination he faced as a child in the internment camps.
As a Japanese American, I am keenly mindful of the subtle and not so subtle discrimination that the law can impose. During World War II, I grew up imprisoned behind the barbed wire fences of U.S. internment camps. Pearl Harbor had been bombed and Japanese Americans were rounded up and incarcerated simply because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. Fear and war hysteria swept the nation. A Presidential Executive Order directed the internment of Japanese Americans as a matter of national security. Now, with the passage of time, we look back and see it as a shameful chapter of American history. President Gerald Ford rescinded the Executive Order that imprisoned us. President Ronald Reagan formally apologized for the unjust imprisonment. President George H.W. Bush signed the redress payment checks to the survivors. It was a tragic and dark taint on American history.

With time, I know the opposition to same sex marriage, too, will be seen as an antique and discreditable part of our history. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy remarked on same sex marriage, "Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper, in fact, serve only to oppress." (SOURCE: Takei's blog)

He was, is and always will be my hero and one of my biggest role models. Thank you, Mr. Takei, and congratulations to you and Brad. I wish you all the happiness in the world!

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