Star Trek actor George Takei said that he was motivated to publicly come out as gay late in life because then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed the state’s gay marriage legislation.
“I was so angry that I spoke to the press for the first time as a gay man at the age of 68,” he reportedly said in a recent interview with the British theater publication The Stage.
George Takei, who is now 85, recounted how he came out in 2005 during an interview with Frontiers, a gay magazine in the Los Angeles area.
“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,” he told The Stage.
Takei said he was already in a long-term relationship with his now-husband, but was afraid coming out would ruin his Hollywood career.
“Why did it take me so long to come out?” he said. “Because I’m an actor and I wanted to work. 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.”
In 2005, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed A.B. 849, which would have legalized same-sex marriage in California. Two years later, he vetoed A.B. 43, known as the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act, which also would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state.
After leaving Sacramento and resuming his Hollywood career, Schwarzenegger made an about-face and publicly supported gay marriage, even praising the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
Last year, George Takei told Americans to stop complaining about soaring inflation, telling consumers they need to put up with higher food and gas prices in order to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The actor called inflation “a patriotic donation.”