Star Trek, at least during the 1960s, was considered innovative in bringing characters and stories to screen that no one else dared. Whether it was racism, nuclear proliferation or even protest of the Vietnam conflict, fans knew that “Star Trek” was there.
That is, until it came to gay characters.
Brannon Braga, a former executive producer with the Star Trek spinoffs like “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Enterprise,” says that of all the hundreds of episodes of Star Trek produced, he’s sorry none of them included an out character.
“It was a shame for a lot of us,” Braga recently told AfterElton. “It was not a forward-thinking decision.”
But it’s unclear if Braga, who is now the showrunner for the upcoming Fox and Steven Spielberg series “Terra Nova,” would be forward-thinking now. Instead of saying he wishes he could go back and change it, Braga says he would have included a gay character or two if the Star Trek series were running under his command today. In fact, he says he “wouldn’t have been squeamish” about it.
The only problem is having gay characters in television shows today doesn’t exactly take a lot of courage. Both “Caprica” and “Stargate: Universe” featured openly gay characters — at least one (played by Sasha Roiz) defying stereotypes by being a gangster in a same-sex marriage. Other shows have openly gay characters as well, including the Fox hit “Glee.”
Having gay characters should have happened back in the late 1980s, or anytime through the 1990s. Doing it then would have been the kind of groundbreaking activity that Star Trek was originally known for. It’s like Capt. Kirk was always “boldly going,” but Picard and the rest of the captains were “squeamishly” going.
In fact, this isn’t the first time Braga has talked about the lack of gay characters in Star Trek. Nearly a decade ago, when talking about the then UPN series “Star Trek: Enterprise,” Braga resisted calls for gay characters on the series.
After “joking” that the show did have a gay character, Cmdr. Riker from TNG, Braga did try to get serious. “It’s a good question,” he said at the time. “To introduce a character and to call attention to it? There has to be a reason [for that character] to be [in the series] without seeming obvious or to be catering to people.”
Apparently, Braga always found reasons to include heterosexual characters without catering to people, but never found a reason to include a gay one. We guess he really was “squeamish” after all.