(Star Trek: Into Darkness)
To many people, the words “Star Trek” bring to mind images of guys in costume trying to pick up girls by speaking Klingon at conventions or fighting with each other on AOL message boards in the ’90s. Recently though, thanks in part to J.J. Abrams’s 2009 film, Star Trek (and, by association, its fans) the franchise is being reassessed and attitudes are changing.
Now heralded as a pioneer of progression, even its newly appreciated status is not without scrutiny and debate. For every plus, there seems to be a minus. Star Trek has given us (arguably) TV’s first interracial kiss (while being controlled by aliens). It has promoted diversity (but still had a white man in charge). It has supported openly gay actors like Zachary Quinto and pioneer of LGBT rights/real life superhero George Takei (but has never actually had a gay character on the show). It seems that no aspect of Star Trek is exempt from being subject to intense debate and scrutiny, and this is largely due to its rabid and intelligent fanbase.
Star Trek fans have a reputation for being intensely devoted as well as intensely critical, and it can be intimidating to those who are new to the series and discovering it for the first time. Luckily, almost any hardcore fan will be more than happy to take the time to explain the ins and outs of the series and answer any questions you may have. I asked a few gay fans about their love of the series, their feelings about the reboot, and what makes Star Trek still so endearing to fans more than 45 years since the premiere of the original series.
“As an adult, I’ve been thrilled to discover that Star Trek has a surprising LGBT following.” Fan Jonathan Lovitz says, “Gene Rodenberry was a dreamer who knew that one day discrimination would fade away… The LGBTQ community has always found kinship among those who felt a little brushed aside and marginalized. So, when we look at this hodge-podge of nationalities and species coexisting peacefully, we can trust that by the 23rd century ‘it gets better’—for everyone.”
David Pengel agrees: ”Star Trek is supposed to depict a human race without prejudice or fear, especially the self-hate that defines it in the present. The world today is full of strife: the awful politics, crushing inequality, looming problems we aren’t close to responding to. Of course it’s comforting to think we can get through it all.”
This weekend brought the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, the highly anticipated sequel to 2009′s well received reboot of the series. Surprisingly, these films seem to have energized rather than enraged most fans. Lovitz says, “I’m totally behind it. J.J. Abrams is a master storyteller, yet even with the big-budget special effects he places intimate, emotional stories at the center of everything he does. Despite being on alien worlds, Star Trek is a vessel for looking at humanity’s potential. (Plus William Shatner and Leonard Nemoy may be legends, but they never looked as hot in a uniform as Chris Pine Zachary Quinto)“
At times, Star Trek‘s version of a brighter future for mankind out in the universe can seem increasingly hopeless and anachronistic. But at its best, Star Trek can represent humanity’s potential to do better. It gives us hope that one day we do figure things out, and before we destroy ourselves, we manage to literally rise above minute and trivial differences and the messes we’ve made down here to take our place among the stars. And, more importantly, that we actually deserve to be there, gay or straight.
Super Queeros is a bi-monthly column by members of New York’s Geeks Out! Follow Rob’s reviews on Twitter (@robrussin) and on Geeksout.org