If any of you happen to know me, or know someone who knows me, or are friends with me on Facebook, etc., you’re likely to hear one detail mentioned over and over: “She’s a Trekkie.”
In the past three years, I have become known for that little three-season show that spawned conventions, films, spinoffs and general mayhem. And I couldn’t be prouder to admit that, but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, when I first decided to delve into that whole world, I was a closeted Trekkie. Yet the more I delved, the more it became a part of who I was, who I am.
I have been so many places, met so many people and overall had so many experiences that I would not have been graced with had I not decided to come out of my Trekkie closet.
First and foremost, I have made many friends through this franchise that I can’t imagine having never known, and in fact, I’ve only known them three and a half years. I’ve been places I never would’ve thought possible. I mean, I’d heard of Comic Con as a kid, but it was always one of those places like Australia (where I’ve also been), where people always said, “Oh, it’d be cool to go there!” but never actually did.
Well I did. Twice. And I’ve met so many people, seen so many new faces, including the faces of those actors I so admire, and I wouldn’t have done any of that without Star Trek.
So while Star Trek’s influence is being felt 46 years later, it also had an immediate effect on the public, because it was the first of its kind: there was so much diversity on the bridge, and it was never made a big deal. The show had an Asian, a Russian and an African-American woman on the bridge of the ship in a time in the real world when tensions with the USSR were tense and racial prejudices were still widely accepted. That was huge.
For example, according to an article I read, Whoopi Goldberg decided to become an actress after seeing Nichelle Nichols (Uhura, an African-American female crew member) on TV, because she wasn’t a slave or a nanny, and when Nichelle wanted to quit the role because of tensions and uncertainties offscreen, she was told that she should stay by none other than Dr. Martin Luther King himself. Now that’s influence.
The show also featured the first interracial kiss between Kirk and Uhura, which then was considered a scandal, and it provided us with one of the first “slash” couples of all time in Kirk/Spock, which brought LGBT to the forefront of media in a time when everyone on TV was assumed heterosexual.
That’s what made Gene Roddenberry the Great Bird: he took controversial topics like race, sexual preference and nationality, and brought them to the forefront. He broke the barrier that 1960s television was, and literally brought us into the future.