Jordan Krueger says he’s been a Star Trek fan for as long as he can remember. He was drawn to Trek’s vision of a better, more peaceful, more open and accepting future.
Accepting, that is, except for members of his community: The one described by four very distinct letters of L, G, B and T.
“I consider myself a Star Trek fan through-and-through,” Krueger recently said online. “But I would be devastated if another series ignores lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people the way past series have done. I want to see more people like me on Star Trek.”
So Krueger, the founder of Starbase118.net, is pushing a petition that would entice CBS Corp. and showrunner Bryan Fuller to include a major character from the LGBT community. The online petition — which you can find right here — has a little more than 200 signatures so far in its early stages, but Krueger hopes it will be enough to get the attention of Fuller, himself openly gay.
In fact, Krueger is not just pushing for a gay character. Following Star Trek’s history of breaking different minority barriers with its captains — like Avery Brooks and Kate Mulgrew — Krueger wants Star Trek to consider its first LGBT captain.
“Star Trek’s core ideal is utopian,” Krueger said. “But not for LGBT people, who’ve been hidden or portrayed poorly. Some of Star Trek’s most ham-fisted moments include characters intended to represent members of the LGBT community, and people with AIDS, while refusing to be explicit about their identities.
“Episodes that were seen as touching LGBT concerns, as well as HIV and AIDS, obfuscated the issues so far as to be convoluted and creating little real impact. Some instances where same-sex affection were shown on screen cast the characters as sadistic villains, while others put male characters into female bodies, a situation that doesn’t adequately represent the experience of LGBT people.”
Krueger is referring to a small group of episodes that aired on both “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” In the 1991 TNG episode “The Host,” Gates McFadden’s Dr. Beverly Crusher falls in love with a Trill ambassador, only to watch him get killed, and have his consciousness moved to another body — a woman’s body. Crusher later rejects the ambassador, saying simply that she can’t “keep up” with all the changes.
A 1995 episode of DS9, called “Rejoined,” also touched on a similar issue, once again involving Trills. This time, Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax comes face to face with a former spouse of a previous male host, Lenara Kahn, played by Susanna Thompson. Although the two would indeed share a same-sex kiss, the story context is that these are leftover feelings from a heterosexual relationship, rather than a same-sex one, based on the gender of the previous hosts.
DS9 also showed a more interesting side of Nana Visitor’s Maj. Kira Nerys — well, the mirror universe version. As a very sinister intendant, the mirror version of Kira comes off as bisexual in the episodes “Through the Looking Glass” in 1995 and “The Emperor’s New Cloak” in 1999. Visitor later said she didn’t think Kira was bisexual, but instead said her showing that level of intimacy with a woman was more about the intendant’s narcissism than sexuality.
“I never liked that people took her for bisexual because she’s an evil character,” Visitor would later tell the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, according to Memory Alpha. “There are so few gay characters on TV, and we really don’t need an evil one.”
However, a lot of changed over the past few decades, something even Krueger admits. Gay rights have been strengthened across the board, especially when it comes to same-sex marriage, openly gay soldiers can serve in the U.S. armed forces, and even government positions are being filled with those from the LGBT community.
But there’s still a long way to go, Krueger said, and the new Star Trek series could help make that happen.
“Right-wing legislators are attempting to stigmatize transgender people by creating a panic around bathroom use, and so-called religious freedom bills — more like ‘freedom to discriminate bills’ — are being used by state legislators to enact the right to discriminate against LGBT Americans,” Krueger said.
And it’s not too late for Star Trek to consider an LGBT main character, Krueger concluded. No casting announcements have been made yet, and filming doesn’t begin until this fall.
“That means there’s still a lot of flexibility to make changes and craft the new series in a more diverse way,” he said.
The sixth Star Trek series is set to premiere on the subscription-based streaming service CBS All Access in January.