Sexuality in Star Trek: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Part of a series on
Sex in speculative fiction

Sex in SF template.png
Sexuality and gender have been explored in unique ways in SF

Sexuality in Star Trek refers to the wide range of sexual practices seen in the Star Trek franchise. Sexual relationships have generally been depicted as heterosexual in nature. Inter-species and inter-ethnic relationships have been commonly depicted.

A comparatively broader range of views has been shown with respect to monogamy, polygamy, and the institution of marriage.

In as much as sexuality can lead to reproduction, some plots have revolved around the possibility of children in a given inter-species relationship, as well as the prejudice that the resulting children have to endure from their parents' societies.


Marriage in Star Trek

Many major species in the Star Trek universe are depicted as having mainly monogamous, heterosexual marital relationships. Major characters who became married to each other include Keiko and Miles O'Brien, Worf and Jadzia Dax, Leeta and Rom, Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, William Riker and Deanna Troi, and Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher (in an alternate future). Other characters noted as being married include Leonard McCoy (divorced before the events of Star Trek), Spock,[1] Hikaru Sulu,[2] Beverly Crusher, Benjamin Sisko, Tuvok, and Kathryn Janeway.

While marriage in Star Trek is most frequently shown to be a pairing of two individuals, the doctor aboard the Enterprise (NX-01), Phlox, was a prominent exception. A Denobulan, his species practiced polygamy. He had three wives, who in turn each had two other husbands besides him.

Sexuality outside of marriage

Most relationships into which Starfleet officers enter are brief, nonmarital, serially monagamous ones. Because of the nature of life aboard exploratory vessels, officers are frequently seen to have sexual relationships lasting no more than an episode. James T. Kirk and William Riker are models of this kind of sexual practice, each with long lists of temporary partners.

Some characters have been shown to have children out of wedlock. Kirk's son David Marcus, as well as Worf's son Alexander Rozhenko, were both born to parents who never married.

Deltans, a race introduced in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, are so profoundly sexual that they must swear an oath of celibacy upon entering Starfleet to avoid harming non-Deltans they may serve with.

Religious figures, as in real life, are not necessarily bound by rules of celibacy in the Star Trek universe. On the deeply religious world of Bajor, for instance, even the spiritual leaders may enter non-marital sexual relationships without religious disapproval, suggesting sex is simply a non-issue in Bajoran religion, at least in the dominant one seen on Deep Space Nine.

Interracial relationships

Plato's Stepchildren

Moments before Kirk and Uhura share a kiss. (This is popularly cited as being the first interracial kiss portrayed on US television).

The episode is often cited as the "first interracial kiss" depicted on television, between James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), but the reality is not so straightforward. William Shatner recalls in Star Trek Memories that NBC insisted their lips never touch (the technique of turning their heads away from the camera was used to conceal this); moreover, the episode portrays the kiss as involuntary, being forced by telekinesis. However, Nichelle Nichols insists in her autobiography Beyond Uhura (written in 1994 after Shatner's book) that the kiss was real, even in takes where her head obscures their lips.[3]

The term "interracial" is used in this context to mean between black and white actors. There had been a number of interethnic kisses on American TV before this, most notably the two leads of the long-running American sitcom I Love Lucy[4] (white and Hispanic). Star Trek itself had also previously featured such interethnic kisses between white and non-white actors (specifically Madlyn Rhue with Ricardo Montalbán in "Space Seed", and William Shatner with France Nuyen in "Elaan of Troyius") but had drawn no comment. Furthermore, the 'taboo' of white and black actors kissing had already been broken by child actor Buckwheat from the The Little Rascals (though that first aired as films) and NBC itself: Nancy Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. kissed in the 1967 TV special Movin' With Nancy [1] (though on British television the event had happened even earlier, in the 1964 hospital drama Emergency – Ward 10). And, finally, the statement applies to actors, not characters: stage productions and television presentations of Othello featured white actors in blackface kissing white actresses.

Despite this, when NBC executives learned of the kiss they became concerned it would anger TV stations in the conservative Deep South.[5] Earlier in 1968, NBC had expressed similar concern over a musical sequence in a Petula Clark special in which she touched Harry Belafonte's arm, a moment cited as the first occasion of direct physical contact on American television between a man and woman of different races[6]. At one point during negotiations, the idea was brought up of having Spock kiss Uhura instead, but William Shatner insisted that they stick with the original script.[citation needed] NBC finally ordered that two versions of the scene be shot — one where Kirk and Uhura kissed and one where they did not[citation needed]. Having successfully recorded the former version of the scene, Shatner and Nichelle Nichols deliberately flubbed every take of the latter version, thus forcing the episode to go out with the kiss intact.[7] As Nichelle Nichols writes:

'Knowing that Gene was determined to air the real kiss, Bill shook me and hissed menacingly in his best ham-fisted Kirkian staccato delivery, "I! WON'T! KISS! YOU! I! WON'T! KISS! YOU!"
It was absolutely awful, and we were hysterical and ecstatic. The director was beside himself, and still determined to get the kissless shot. So we did it again, and it seemed to be fine. "Cut! Print! That's a wrap!"
The next day they screened the dailies, and although I rarely attended them, I couldn't miss this one. Everyone watched as Kirk and Uhura kissed and kissed and kissed. And I'd like to set the record straight: Although Kirk and Uhura fought it, they did kiss in every single scene. When the non-kissing scene came on, everyone in the room cracked up. The last shot, which looked okay on the set, actually had Bill wildly crossing his eyes. It was so corny and just plain bad it was unusable. The only alternative was to cut out the scene altogether, but that was impossible to do without ruining the entire episode. Finally, the guys in charge relented: "To hell with it. Let's go with the kiss." I guess they figured we were going to be cancelled in a few months anyway. And so the kiss stayed.'[8]

There were, however, few contemporary records of any complaints commenting on the scene.[9] Nichelle Nichols observes that "Plato's Stepchildren" which first aired in November 1968 "received a huge response. We received one of the largest batches of fan mail ever, all of it very positive, with many addressed to me from girls wondering how it felt to kiss Captain Kirk, and many to him from guys wondering the same thing about me. Interestingly, however, almost no one found the kiss offensive" except from a single mildly negative letter by a white Southerner.[9] Nichols notes that "for me, the most memorable episode of our last season was 'Plato's Stepchildren'."[10]

Later interracial relationships

Relationships between humans of different races have been depicted in more modern series, for example the marriage of Keiko O'Brien, who is Asian, and Miles O'Brien, who is European.

Inter-species mating

Relationships between characters of different species have sometimes been used as an analogy for interracial relationships.

As evidenced by the existence of Spock, inter-species mating has been a part of Star Trek since its first episode. The original series, its animated follow-up, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek all contained instances in which Spock had to deal with the consequences of his Human-Vulcan biology. Each series that followed, in narrative time, had at least one recurring character who was the result of an interspecies coupling: Deanna Troi on The Next Generation, Ziyal on Deep Space Nine, and B'Elanna Torres on Voyager.

Only Enterprise did not have a recurring "mixed-species" child, though the series' penultimate story arc dealt with the first Vulcan-Human offspring. In "Terra Prime", a cloned child of Charles Tucker III and T'Pol was used by a xenophobic political group as an example of the "dangers" of inter-species breeding.

Outside of questions of reproduction, many inter-species relationships were seen, including those between a Human and a Trill, a Human and an Elaysian, a Human and a Betazoid, a Human and a Deltan, a Human and an Orion, a Klingon and a Trill, a Klingon and a Ferengi, a Ferengi and a Cardassian, a Ferengi and a Bajoran, a Bajoran and a Changeling, and several others.

The species most often involved in inter-species reproduction seems to be Human; Spock, Deanna Troi, K'Ehleyr, Sela of Romulus, Lt. Daniel Kwan (a half-Napean in "Eye of the Beholder"), B'Elanna Torres, and Naomi Wildman are only a few Trek characters who have one human parent and one non-human parent, whereas comparatively few hybrids with no Human heritage on either side are seen.

LGBT in Star Trek

Except as indicated below, none of the Star Trek films or television series have had any characters officially identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), nor have there been stories that directly address LGBT themes. This has prompted Star Trek fans to debate the sexual orientation of certain characters, and whether particular storylines were intended to offer a critique of homophobia.[11]

Controversy has accompanied this lack of prominence in Star Trek storylines.[11] While there are several examples of alternative sexualities, the absence of LGBT examples amongst clearly dual-sexed species has been a subject of debate. In 1987, series creator Gene Roddenberry stated that there would be gay characters in The Next Generation.[11] What has followed since then has been a controversy, among fans, as to how much of this promise has been fulfilled within the television spinoffs of the Star Trek world.[11] However, LGBT characters and relationships have featured in non-canonical Star Trek spin-off media, including the Paramount licensed Star Trek novel line published by Pocket Books, as well as in a number of unlicensed Star Trek fan productions. The first Star Trek fan film to feature LGBT characters and themes was Star Trek: Hidden Frontier.

George Takei, who portrayed Lt. Sulu, at a pride parade in 2006. In 2005, Takei came out as gay.

Star Trek's original series did not have any explicitly LGBT characters, although in 2005 George Takei, who portrayed helmsman Lt. Hikaru Sulu, became the first major actor on any Star Trek series to come out as gay.[12]

Cast and crew perspectives

In a 1991 interview with The Humanist, Roddenberry talked about being a heterosexual man who had to overcome his own homophobia:

My attitude toward homosexuality has changed. I came to the conclusion that I was wrong. I was never someone who hunted down 'fags' as we used to call them on the street. I would, sometimes, say something anti-homosexual off the top of my head because it was thought, in those days, to be funny. I never really deeply believed those comments, but I gave the impression of being thoughtless in these areas. I have, over many years, changed my attitude about gay men and women."[13]

Roddenberry also promised that in the upcoming fifth season of TNG, gay crew members would appear on the show (The Advocate). Other stars of the franchise chimed in, with Leonard Nimoy (who played Spock) offering his support in a 1991 letter to the Los Angeles Times:

It is entirely fitting that gays and lesbians will appear unobtrusively aboard the Enterprise — neither objects of pity nor melodramatic attention."[14]

However, Roddenberry died soon after his interviews, Ernest Over (Roddenberry's driver and personal assistant, who was openly gay) was fired, and the announced plans to have a gay crew member on TNG never materialized. Control of the Star Trek franchise fell to Rick Berman. While no gay crew members appeared on TNG, "The Outcast" was one episode that was intended to address the subject of sexual discrimination in the Star Trek universe, although it was often subjected to criticism.

In a 2000 Fandom interview, Ronald D. Moore suggested that the reason no gay characters existed in television franchise was because someone wanted it that way, and no amount of support from fans, cast or crew was going to make any difference.

Tell me why there are no gay characters in Star Trek. This is one of those uncomfortable questions I hate getting when I was working on the show, because there is no good answer for it. There is no answer for it other than people in charge don’t want gay characters in Star Trek, period... That’s one of the great things about Paramount. Paramount left us alone. They always left us alone. They let Next Gen do whatever it wanted. God knows it let Deep Space Nine do whatever we wanted. It lets Voyager do whatever it wants. The studio is not the problem here. The studio is going to let you go wherever you want to go, as long as they believe that this is quality, as long as they believe it’s good work. You’ve just got to come up with something good.

Comments like this have sent a message to fans that while the cast, crew, and even the Paramount studio is open to the idea of having gay characters on the television franchise, someone that controls the franchise, but not the studio itself, has made his prohibition position on this issue very clear.[11]

In 2002, Kate Mulgrew (who played Captain Janeway) gave an interview to Metrosource where she spoke candidly about the issue of LGBT characters in the Star Trek television universe.

[...] because of its both political and potentially incendiary substance. I'm in a minority as well, as a woman. It took a lot of courage on their part to hire a woman. I think that right up until the end they were very dubious about it. It's one thing to cast a subordinate Black, Asian or woman, but to put them in leading role means the solid endorsement of one of the largest studios in the world. And that goes for a gay character as well. It requires a terrific social conscience on their part and the pledge of some solidarity and unanimity, which I think is probably at the source of most of this problem to get every one of those executives on board regarding this decision.[15]

That same year Mulgrew was even more blunt about the topic in an August 2002 interview for Out in America:

Well, one would think that Hollywood would be more open-minded at this point, since essentially the whole town is run by the gay community. It makes very little sense if you think about it. No, Star Trek is very strangely by the book in this regard. Rick Berman, who is a very sagacious man, has been very firm about certain things. I've approached him many, many times over the years about getting a gay character on the show — one whom we could really love, not just a guest star. Y'know, we had blacks, Asians, we even had a handicapped character — and so I thought, this is now beginning to look a bit absurd. And he said, "In due time." And so, I'm suspecting that on Enterprise they will do something to this effect. I couldn't get it done on mine. And I am sorry for that.[16]

The longtime debate over whether Star Trek should include a gay character reached a head with Enterprise, as there were some rumors that the character Malcolm Reed would be gay, though these rumors turned out to be untrue. In a 2002 interview with Metrosource, actor Scott Bakula (who played Captain Jonathan Archer) expressed his support for the idea as had the TNG actors Patrick Stewart and Jonathan Frakes in the 1990s. In the interview Bakula said:

I'm not really familiar with the history of this particular issue with regards to Star Trek; in fact, the first I ever heard of it was at our first junket when somebody asked if there was going to be an opportunity for a gay or lesbian character on the show. I was surprised at the question, because I had just assumed that over the course of the years that it had been addressed. I was surprised it was even an issue. Since then I haven't sat down with Rick and Brannon to discuss it. It does seem awkward [that nothing has ever happened]. I haven't heard anything coming down the pipeline, but I would be in favor of it. I would hope it would be handled in a great way. It would be wonderful, in my opinion, if it was not such a huge issue, but was just there.[17]

Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan) in 2008

In a 1990 episode about Data's attempt to procreate, "The Offspring," Data creates Lal, an android daughter, and the other crew members seek to explain humanoid sexuality to Lal. According to TNG research consultant Richard Arnold, Whoopi Goldberg changed her character's dialog from a strictly heterosexual explanation to a gender-neutral version:

According to the script, Guinan was supposed to start telling Lal, "When a man and a woman are in love ..." and in the background, there would be men and women sitting at tables, holding hands[...] But Whoopi refused to say that. She said, "This show is beyond that. It should be 'When two people are in love.'"

TNG research consultant Richard Arnold, as quoted in "Gay Trek", Salon (2001)[18]

A same-sex couple was going to be placed in the background of the scene, but producer David Livingston was contacted and stopped the last-minute change from occurring.

Notable episodes

"Blood and Fire" (TNG)

Science-fiction writer David Gerrold was with Roddenberry when he promised that Star Trek: The Next Generation (referred to by fans as TNG) would integrate LGBT characters into the series and thus drafted a script for an episode that would have had two male crew-members that were a couple, in the backdrop of an allegory about the mistreatment of people infected with AIDS. The title of this unproduced episode was "Blood and Fire." Gerrold has since said that while many of the TNG cast and crew (including Roddenberry) were supportive of the storyline, it met stiff opposition from the studio and the script never made it into production. Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission puts the blame on the studio: "Much of the change in perception of the script resulted from Paramount's concern that because the series was syndicated, in some markets it might air in the afternoon when younger viewers would be part of the audience." The October 1992 issue of Cinefantastique magazine laid much of the blame for the fate of the script on executive producer Rick Berman. Roddenberry publicly supported the idea of having gay characters on the show, and in internal meetings about "Blood and Fire" he is paraphrased by Herbert Wright as having said,

It's the 24th century. By that time nobody gives a shit! It's an issue of the 20th century and maybe the 19th century, but it has nothing to do with the 24th century. By that time it's your choice of whoever you want."[19]

Yet, other fans accuse Roddenberry of hypocrisy by allowing studio executives such as Berman and Leonard Maizlish (Roddenberry's lawyer) to order rewrites of the script that removed the gay characters, and then were still nervous about the public reaction to an episode that offered a social critique of the hysteria that surrounded the AIDS epidemic.[19] Other fans have suggested that office politics, including a labor dispute between Gerrold and Roddenberry, prevented the script from getting produced, rather than bigotry or hypocrisy on the part of Roddenberry or the studio. In a 1991 story by The Advocate, Ernest Over (Roddenberry's secretary) erroneously claimed that the script portrayed one of the men in the relationship as effeminate and the other as masculine.[20] Gerrold apparently was so annoyed by this and other remarks that he sold copies of the script at conventions so that fans could judge for themselves; he donated most of the proceeds to the AIDS Project Los Angeles.

"The Outcast" (TNG)

In 1992, the episode titled "The Outcast" is a story in which Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) falls in love with Soren, a member of the J'naii androgynous humanoid race that views the expression of gender, especially sexual liaisons, as a sexual perversion. When the affair between Riker and Soren is discovered, the J'naii force Soren to undergo "psychotectic" therapy. Soren gets the chance to defend her right to love regardless of sex or gender.

Soren was played by actress Melinda Culea, and all of the main J'naii characters were played by females, a creative decision criticized by Frakes, who felt that Soren should have been played by a male, so that when their characters kissed, it would have had the social commentary akin to the original Star Trek series that aired the first interracial kiss between fictional characters on U.S. network television. Frakes and fans felt that having all the J'naii played by female actors undermined the social commentary of the episode and created a sense that homosexuality was something brought onto the Enterprise by fascist lesbians.[11] Despite the criticism, Berman felt that this episode would end criticism among fans about the "gay issue."[11]

"Rejoined" (DS9)

Trill female Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) gave fans the first romantic same-sex kiss in Star Trek television. Dax has been described as a "bisexual woman in the most far-reaching sense", and as a joined Trill, a "serial hermaphrodite".[21] In the 1995 episode "Rejoined", Jadzia considers reuniting with another female Trill, Dr. Lenara Kahn. Originally the script called for Dr. Kahn to be played by a male actor, but it was changed because the producers felt that the audience would understand the Trill taboo being violated if it involved two women.[22] The Dax and Kahn symbionts had been married while the Dax symbiont was joined to a male host and the Kahn symbiont was joined with a different female host. However, by reuniting the two Trill would be violating a Trill taboo against re-establishing relationships of past hosts. The two women agree to part ways at the end of the episode and Jadzia Dax would return to dating men. Captain Benjamin Sisko's conversation with Jadzia makes it clear that the gender of Dr. Kahn is a non-issue. It was also notable that with the video featuring "Rejoined" on its debut VHS release, various countries gave the video a rating of that above a standard Parental Guidance rating. As a result, this tape was the first Trek release to be rated above any standard PG rating in almost every country that it was released.

"Stigma" (ENT)

The series did air an episode with some social commentary about the ills of mistreating people living with HIV-AIDS. The episode "Stigma" (2003) revealed that the Vulcan named T'Pol (played by Jolene Blalock) had become infected with a disease from a forced mind meld. The Vulcans who engage in mind melding and are infected with this disease are reviled outcasts in Vulcan society. Along with the episode's social commentary on the AIDS pandemic, bits of dialogue do, albeit broadly, address the issue of sexuality-based discrimination.

Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), does criticize the Vulcan society for having this prejudice based on a "disagreement" over how someone conducts their private life. When a Vulcan doctor (Lee Spencer) essentially "comes out" as a member of the mind-melding community, his brief speech invokes a gay rights tone[citation needed].

Critics pointed out that the episode had been produced only because UPN (the network on which the show was broadcast) instructed the producers of all its programs to make HIV-AIDS related episodes for the World AIDS Day awareness month. In an April 2003 interview with Trekweb, Berman stated, "'Stigma' was supposed to be our gay episode, but we sort of copped out."

Other examples

  • In 1990, in the script for the episode "Captain's Holiday," a throwaway direction in the script details a holiday resort, Risa, in which "couples predominate, with the spectrum of sexual preferences being evident." However, the actual episode shows only heterosexual couples.
  • In 1991, the episode titled "The Host" is a story in which Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) falls in love with Odan, a member of the Trill a symbiotic lifeform that uses a humanoid as a host. Odan's shuttle craft is attacked and the host dies. The Trill is placed in a new host which is a female humanoid. Odan confesses her love for Crusher, but Crusher states she is uncomfortable with loving the new host.
  • Situations featuring potential same-sex pairings were also used as jokes in the series. In the 1992 episode titled "A Fistful of Datas" the holodeck program of the Wild West can only end when Data, as the female saloon owner, throws himself into Worf's arms. In "Tapestry," the character known as Q implies that in an alternative universe he might have been Picard's lover, a comment on the two characters' relationship. There are other bits of dialogue where Q would mention that he could have appeared as a woman.
  • When the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact was in production, a rumor circulated that one crew-member named Lieutenant Hawk (Neal McDonough) would be identified as gay in some subtle way. The Daily Mail and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reported on the rumor, but Berman quickly released a press statement that there were no LGBT characters in the film. However, Andy Mangels' and Michael Martin's novel Section 31: Rogue establishes Hawk as a gay character.[19]
  • In the book A Stitch In Time and in an interview, the actor Andrew Robinson stated that he played Garak as being bisexual, while at other times he stated that he felt that Garak was omnisexual, meaning that he loved people regardless of their gender.[22]
  • Deep Space Nine also used cross-dressing to introduce situational homosexuality for comic relief. In "Rules of Acquisition", Pel is a Ferengi in love with Quark. Pel is a female pretending to be a male in order to have a career in the sexist Ferengi society. She eventually confesses to Dax that she is in love with Quark. Dax then indicates she had guessed as much, though Dax is unaware of Pel's true sex at this point. She then asks Pel if Quark was aware of the infatuation, to which Pel responds "he doesn't even know that I'm a female". Quark refuses to acknowledge an impetuous kiss from Pel. When Quark learns that Pel is a female, he rejects her offer of a romantic and business partnership because he does not want to be an outcast in Ferengi society for having a female wife who was also his business partner.
  • In the episode "Profit and Lace", Quark briefly is surgically altered to become a woman in an attempt to persuade a powerful Ferengi businessman that there would be profit in overturning the traditional Ferengi social code that Ferengi women should be naked. Quark and the Ferengi businessman would share a kiss while Quark is still in the guise of a female, becoming Star Trek's first male same-sex kiss.
  • The last season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1999) has an episode titled "Field of Fire" in which Dax, now in the body of a new female host, has to track down a Vulcan murderer on the space station. One of the victims was a Bolian, played by a male actor, who was described as having a co-husband in addition to a wife, although this may refer to polyandrism.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Warlord", Kes's body is possessed by a male warlord named Tieran, who while in Kes's body engages in romantic relationships with both men and women, and even announces his engagement to another man. In one scene while possessed, Kes almost kisses another female, but is called away at the last moment. Later in the episode, she does kiss Tuvok, which some may view as a same-sex kiss. The situation could also illustrate an internal struggle between the experience of Tieran and the female biology of Kes.
  • In the episode "Ashes To Ashes", a female crew member returns from the dead and subsequently wants to leave the starship. The episode contained a joke where she goes on a date[citation needed] one evening with Captain Kathryn Janeway who tries unsuccessfully to convince her to stay. It is never explained if this was a romantic evening or a platonic expression of bonding and friendship between two women. In the episodes "The Killing Game, Part I" and "Dark Frontier, Part II", sections of dialogue seemed to suggest[citation needed] that Seven of Nine might at least be bisexual even as her official story-line required that she be heterosexual.
  • When Enterprise began in 2001 there were some rumors that the character Malcolm Reed (played by Dominic Keating) would be gay. The writer Andy Mangels asked Dominic Keating at the Creation Star Trek Convention in Portland, January, 2002, whether his character would be gay. Keating said that it had been discussed and rejected. Dialogue between Riker and Reed in the final episode was edited to acknowledge this issue (Riker is talking to Reed about a male crewmate, and asks "Do you think he's attractive?", after which the camera pulls off of Riker and it is revealed that the scene had jumped forwards in time and he is now asking the question of a female crewman).
  • During the early half of Enterprise's 3rd season an episode aired entitled "Rajiin" which seemed to feature a lesbian or bisexual undertone. The character of Rajiin used a method of seduction to perform a biological analysis of Archer, Hoshi and T'Pol. During her attack on Archer, she is clearly shown kissing and otherwise engaging in foreplay, although this explicitness is not repeated with Hoshi and T'Pol. While Hoshi's encounter is left entirely to the viewer's imagination (the turbolift door closes before what is implied as a kiss), T'Pol's is slightly more defined. Rajiin caresses her and runs her hands over her body—although this is shown to be the method of gaining biological data. Still, there is no indication that Rajiin genuinely has an attraction to any one of the three of them, so her sexual orientation is not explicitly stated.

Examples outside of Star Trek canon

Novels and comic books

Star Trek novels and comic books appear to be under a much less strict standard when it comes to addressing LGBT issues in the franchise.

References to bisexuality occurred in Gene Roddenberry's 1979 novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in a foreword allegedly written by James Kirk in which he cleverly avoids confirmation or denial of a romantic relationship with Spock.[23] Similarly, early Star Trek novels written by Vonda N. McIntyre, such as The Entropy Effect, had subplots referencing alternative lifestyles and family arrangements. McIntyre's novelizations of The Wrath of Khan (1982) and The Search for Spock (1984) also made reference, in passing, to such themes. The thrust of these references is that sexual orientation was simply not an issue and that the characters felt free to engage in whatever relationships they desired, irrespective of their gender. Della van Hise's Star Trek novel Killing Time is infamous[citation needed] for its Kirk/Spock content[citation needed] (which was considerably more blatant in an early draft that was published by mistake[citation needed]).

In the 1990s official Star Trek novels and comic books began to introduce minor Star Trek crewmembers, cadets and officers that were established as being LGBT. In each case, their sexual orientation was treated as a normal, personal trait, akin to religion, and the only homophobia that arose was from a particular alien race, who often ended up learning a lesson in tolerance. For example, Jeri Taylor (of Voyager) wrote Pathways, a novel concerning the early lives of the Voyager crew. In the book, the character of Harry Kim was revealed to have had, at one time, a gay roommate who harbored romantic feelings toward him, however this was never reciprocated as Harry was in the early stages of a heterosexual relationship. Also, in sections set in the present, two of Voyager's crewmembers (who never appeared or were referenced in the television series) were revealed to be in a gay couple, and this is simply mentioned and not treated as character flaw or a concern for any of the other crewmembers. Likewise Andy Mangels' and Michael A. Martin's novel Section 31: Rogue (2001) established Lieutenant Hawk as being gay and having a boyfriend named Ranul Keru. Keru further appeared in the Deep Space Nine novel Worlds of Deep Space Nine: Unjoined and the Titan series. The Starfleet Corps of Engineers e-book series includes a gay main character in Bart Faulwell.

Etana Kol and Kristen Richter are a lesbian couple and supporting characters in the DS9 Relaunch. In the novel Imzadi by Peter David, Lwaxana Troi tells that she had been part of an arranged marriage when younger but she called it off when she realized he was in love with someone else: "Another man." She further states that the same-sex pair "made a cuter couple than we did." The implication is clearly that either same-sex pairings are accepted in Betazed society or that Lwaxana is that accepting, or both.

The DS9 Relaunch novels also give a more complete view of Andorian biology and sexuality than was ever revealed in the series proper. They apparently have four genders, none of which are strictly "male" or "female," but two of which are often referred to as male and the other two as female for the ease of the usual bi-gendered species. Their reproductive process requires all four genders (that is, two "males" and two "females") to be together at once. While this is not a true analogue to any human sexuality, it is an interesting "alternative" sexuality whose depiction includes clear expressions of love between characters who would be seen by others as being the same gender. Emotional and physical problems resulting from this four way bond play a prominent role throughout many of the Relaunch novels.

In Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier series the character of Burgoyne 172 is hermaphroditic and bisexual, s/he has a brief relationship with helmsman Mark McHenry before entering into a relationship and fathering a child with Dr Selar. In the same series Selar's brother briefly features as a gay Vulcan, his father disapproves of this, though seemingly not through prejudice, but because he does not see the logic in sex without procreation.

In addition many other recent books contain smaller references to homosexual or bisexual characters. For example, the recent Vanguard series features a female Vulcan officer engaged in a relationship with a female Klingon spy disguised as a human- an action that, according to Klingon tradition, brings great dishonor to the Klingon in question. Also, the Next Generation novel 'The Best and the Brightest,' by Susan Wright, features two classmates of the same gender from Starfleet Academy who eventually become involved in a romantic relationship by the end of the book. In To Reign In Hell several homosexual couples are also mentioned by Kirk's nemesis, Khan.

Instructions for authors who wish to write officially licensed Star Trek spin-off books state that there is to be no suggestion of a relationship "other than friendship" between crew members.[24]

Computer and video games

In 1995, Spectrum HoloByte released the graphic adventure MS-DOS computer game Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity, featuring voice talents from the television series of the same name. One of the levels involved going to a tropical world where aliens of the male gender were second class citizens, and Commander Data at one point made a reference to his kidnapping by the art collector in "The Most Toys".

In 2000, Activision released Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force for Windows and the PlayStation 2. The game, a first-person shooter built around id Tech 3, allowed the player to choose between male and female avatars; irrespective of the gender chosen, a female character would flirt with the protagonist later on in the game.

Fan response

In 1972, Grup, the first sexually themed Star Trek zine was published, to controversy in the fandom. In 1974 the first "publicly published" Star Trek slash fiction was presented in Grup #3.[25] Kirk/Spock fan fiction was the first prominent slash pairing.[26] Much fanfic has been written about various Star Trek characters entering homosexual relationships; this is typical for any fandom.

In 2000, a group of Star Trek fans created their own low budget Star Trek series, Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, and aired the episodes online. The series has included some gay crew members.

When Star Trek: Voyager came to air, fans created the "Voyager Visibility Project" in an effort to persuade the series to have one of its crew-members established as having a gay or bisexual orientation. The club was able to get the endorsement of Roddenberry's grandson, Richard Compton Jr.[27] In a letter to the fan club he wrote:

I wholeheartedly support the Voyager Visibility Project's efforts to add an on-going gay or lesbian character to Star Trek: Voyager. I feel that the producers of Voyager fail to exhibit the social foresight that my grandfather has shown. Only through 20th Century activism can the 23rd Century goal of a hateless society be met. (April 29, 1996)

The club created enough of a letter writing campaign that in 1997, Voyager Executive Producer Jeri Taylor made the suggestion that Seven of Nine should be established as being a lesbian or bisexual. The internal suggestion was leaked to the press and the fan club and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a press release praising the decision to make the character the first gay character on the show.[28] However, Paramount quickly issued a statement that Seven of Nine was going to be heterosexual, and afterwards Taylor explained that her suggestion was rejected by an unnamed superior. Yet, as seen with DS9, Voyager was able to drop hints about a hero's or villain's sexuality as long as it was never developed.

In 2008, Star Trek: Phase II will release a 2-part episode adapted from David Gerrold's "Blood and Fire". It will introduce two gay crew members into the cast.

On July 15, 2009, a project called "SEE Trek Love" was created in response to the release of Star Trek. The project was created by the Social Equality Effort for the purpose of persuading the Star Trek writers and producers to include LGBT representation in the subsequent films.[29] The launch of the project's website also included a petition asking the writers and producers of Star Trek to include a same-sex relationship in the film's sequels. As of August 16, 2009, the online petition has over 760 signatures.[30]

Sexuality in species with alternative genders

Star Trek has occasionally centered plots around species who have more than two, or fewer than two, distinct genders. Sometimes, dual-gendered species have been portrayed as having distinctly non-human assignment of reproductive responsibilities.

A notable example is that of an Enterprise episode titled "Cogenitor". In the episode, the Enterprise crews meets a new tri-gendered alien race, and finds out that, according to T'Pol, "tri-gendered reproduction is not uncommon" in the Star Trek galaxy. The "neutral" gender of which the cogenitor is a part produces an enzyme necessary for males and females to reproduce. Despite the crucial function the cogenitor performs, it lives in conditions Tucker believes are akin to slavery. His struggles to get the cogenitor to understand that it can have a more independent life meet with some success, but ultimately the imposition of human, dual-gendered attitudes on the situation merely serve to throw the cogentior into mental chaos. It ends up committing suicide at the end of the episode.

Androgynous species have been seen in Star Trek as well, as evidenced by "The Outcast". The people featured in the episode are a single-sex species who find distinctions of gender inappropriate. There are also a number of instances in which a species' androgyny has a less central role to the plot, as with the Axanar of the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, "Fight or Flight".

Another Enterprise episode, "Unexpected", introduced the Xyrillian. They were a species who separated the functions of reproduction differently than most dual-gendered species. Males had no role in conception but were responsible for pregnancy and childbirth. The fertilized egg was transferred to their bodies in a way that did not appear sexual to humans. Commander Tucker thus became involved in the first inter-species pregnancy in the Star Trek narrative chronology. He was, according to T'Pol, also the first human male to become pregnant.

Trill sexuality is complicated. Although Trill hosts clearly are a part of a dual-gendered species, the gender of the symbionts, and indeed their method of reproduction, has never been made explicit. Joined Trill that have bonded with male and female hosts have some commonality with transgendered humans, but are in fact the precise opposite of the species in "The Outcast". They are pansexual, with clear memories of what it is like to have been the opposite gender, or to have had a different sexual orientation. Any single sexual act between two hosts involves four individuals all coming to an agreement that the sexual episode should proceed. The potential for the symbiont to overrule the desires of the host (or the converse) is so great, in fact, that taboos on sexuality have nothing to do with gender or sexual orientation. Sanctions are shown to be in place against "reassociation" of a symbiont with lovers of a previous host. Symbionts in a new host are encouraged to cut off any contact with an old familiar life, be it lovers, families or friends.Trill society emphasizes variety of lovers, and not gender, as the matter of highest sexual relevancy.

See also


  1. ^ Implied by a line in "Sarek" (TNG); he was also betrothed to a woman in "Amok Time" (TOS)
  2. ^ Sulu's family is mentioned and his daughter appears in Star Trek Generations.
  3. ^ Nichelle Nichols, Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories, G.P. Putnam & Sons New York, 1994. pp.195-198
  4. ^ CBS at 75 moments
  5. ^ Nichols, p.195
  6. ^ "Harry Belafonte 'Speaking Freely' Transcript". First Amendment Center. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  7. ^ Nicholls, p.195-196
  8. ^ Nichols, p.196
  9. ^ a b Nichols, pp.196-197
  10. ^ Nichols, p.193
  11. ^ a b c d e f g D. Sinclair (October 19, 2003). "Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Characters on Star Trek — a 12-year saga of deceit, lies, excuses and broken promises". 
  12. ^ Associated Press (October 27, 2005). "George Takei, ‘Mr. Sulu,’ says he’s gay". MSNBC. 
  13. ^ David Alexander (March/April 1991). "Interview of Gene Roddenberry: Writer, Producer, Philosopher, Humanist". The Humanist. Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  14. ^ Ruth Rosen (October 30, 1991). "'Star Trek' Is on Another Bold Journey". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  15. ^ D. Sinclair (October 19, 2003). "Supportive Comments by Voyager Actors". 
  16. ^ Andy Scahill (August 8, 2002). "A Brand New Voyage". Out in America. Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  17. ^ Nick Steele (February/March 2002). "Man on a Mission". Metrosource. Retrieved 2006-07-20. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ a b c Mark A. Altman (October 1992). "Tackling Gay Rights". Cinefantastique. 
  20. ^ Joe Clark (August 27, 1991). "Star Trek: The Next Genderation — Queer Characters Join the Enterprise Crew". The Advocate. 
  21. ^ Jon G. Wagner, Jan Lundeen, Deep Space and Sacred Time: Star Trek in the American Mythos, Published by Praeger, 1998, ISBN 0275962253, page 96
  22. ^ a b "Gay Star Trek Timeline". Gay League. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ "One index finger on the mouse scroll bar and the other on my clit" : slash writers' views on pornography, censorship, feminism and risk
  26. ^ David Seed Ed., A Companion to Science Fiction, "Science Fiction/Criticism" p. 57, ISBN 1405112182
  27. ^ "Gay Roddenbery Grandson Endorses Voyager Visibility Petition!". April 29, 1996. 
  28. ^ Voyager Visibility Project/ USS Harvey Milk Gay & Lesbian Star Trek Association (September 4, 1997). "Will sexy new Star Trek character be a lesbian?". 
  29. ^ "SEE Trek Love at Social Equality Effort's website". 
  30. ^ "Social Equality Effort petition". 

Further reading

  • Shaw, Debra Bonita (2006). "Sex and the Single Starship Captain: Compulsory Heterosexuality and Star Trek: Voyager". FEMSPEC: an Interdisciplinary Feminist Journal Dedicated to Critical and Creative Work in the Realms of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Magical Realism, Surrealism, Myth, Folklore, and Other Supernatural Genres 7 (1): 66–85. 
  • Aul, Billie (2002 Autumn). "Prisoners of Dogma and Prejudice: Why There Are no G/L/B/T Characters in Star Trek: Deep Space 9". Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction 31 (86): 51–64. 
  • Good Sex and Star Trek: Where Few Women Have Gone before By: Putnam, Amanda. pp. 171–86 IN: Malcolm, Cheryl Alexander (ed. and introd.); Nyman, Jopi (ed. and introd.); Ickstadt, Heinz (foreword); eros.usa: Essays on the Culture and Literature of Desire. Gdansk, Poland: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Gdanskiego; 2005.
  • GenerAsians: Transgressive Sexuality and Transformations of Identity By: Dariotis, Wei Ming; Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 2001 May; 61 (11): 4384. U of California, Santa Barbara, 2000.
  • Bick, Ilsa J. (1996 Winter). Boys in Space: Star Trek, Latency, and the Neverending Story. 35. pp. 43–60. 
  • Joyrich, Lynne (1996 Winter). "Feminist Enterprise? Star Trek: The Next Generation and the Occupation of Femininity". Cinema Journal 35 (2): 61–84. doi:10.2307/1225756. 
  • Golumbia, David (1995-1996 Winter). "Black and White World: Race, Ideology, and Utopia in Triton and Star Trek". Cultural Critique 32 (0): 75–95. 
  • Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines By: Lamb, Patricia Frazer. pp. 235–255 IN: Palumbo, Donald (ed.); Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood; 1986.
  • Cranny-Francis, Anne (1985 November). "Sexuality and Sex-Role Stereotyping in Star Trek". Science-Fiction Studies 12 (3 [37]): 274–284. 

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address