George Takei recently revealed that he came out as gay in response to former California Governer Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to veto the bill that legalized same-sex marriage in the state almost two decades ago.
In an interview with the British weekly newspaper The Stage, the 85-year-old “Star Trek” actor explained that he had to remain closeted while working in the movie industry as it was difficult to find employment for an openly gay and Asian American man at that time.
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 came out as gay at the age of 68 in an issue of Frontiers, a Los Angeles magazine that covers news in the gay and lesbian community, in 2005.
Takei’s announcement came after Schwarzenegger, who served as the 38th governor of California between 2003 and 2011, vetoed a bill created by Democratic Assemblyman Mark Leno that would have legalized gay marriage in the state.
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. I was so angry that I spoke to the press for the first time as a gay man at the age of 68.
In a statement at that time, Schwarzenegger said Leno’s bill contradicted Proposition 22, approved in 2000, which stated that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid.
“This bill simply adds confusion to a constitutional issue,” he said.
Schwarzenegger backtracked on his statement five years later, in August 2010, when he urged a federal judge to allow gay and lesbian couples to resume their marriages in California without delay.
“The Administration believes the public interest is best served by permitting the court’s judgment to go into effect, thereby restoring the right of same-sex couples to marry in California,” Schwarzenegger’s lawyers said on his behalf. “Doing so is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect.”