25 George Takei Quotes About LGBT Rights, Activism, and More

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We’ve been anxious to set eyes on the new George Takei documentary, To Be Takei, ever since our own Jason Bailey reported good things from Sundance earlier this year. He wrote: “Director Jennifer M. Kroot’s film mostly aims simply to entertain (and it does so), hopscotching through Takei’s unusual life, complimenting it with his own commentary (often accompanied by his distinctive, throaty laugh), and documenting his relationship with [his husband] Brad.” The actor and activist has been an outspoken voice in the LGBT rights movement, lending his whip-smart sense of humor and wisdom to the running Internet commentary. To celebrate the release of To Be Takei, we’re looking back at some of the former Star Trek icon’s greatest quotes about activism, LGBT rights, and more.

“The world has changed from when I was a young teen feeling ashamed for being gay. The issue of gay marriage is now a political issue. That would have been unthinkable when I was young.”

“I’m heartened to see many young people today able to come out proudly, with nary a bit of drama or pain. That, of course, isn’t always the case, and it is still very hard for many to come to terms with their sexuality, whether out of fear of rejection, or the teachings of their particular religion. Just the other day on my Facebook page I shared the story of a high school senior couple, two boys, who were voted by their school as the ‘cutest couple.’ It wasn’t a question of straight or gay, they were simply a delightful, beloved couple. That never would have been conceivable even 20 years ago, let alone the 60 years that have passed since I was a high school senior. I say to young people, the world is changing, and changing fast. And, for the better. Take heart in that, and be part of that change. It is making a difference.”

“Ultimately, marriage equality is going to prevail.”

“I consider it my mission in life to make Americans aware of Japanese internment, that dark chapter of American history.”

“I believe that our democracy truly comes to life as a dynamic democracy. When people are actively engaged in bringing about change, expanding equality for more and more people.”

“I met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and shook his hand. It was a great thrill. I was involved in activism from my teenage days, then the peace movement during the Vietnam War, then the redress movement for Japanese-Americans. But throughout all that, from 9 or 10, I knew I was different from other boys. Bobby was more exciting than Janey. But I hid it. And while I was talking about the ideals of our democracy throughout all these campaigns, I was silent on the real me.”

“Even before I could vote, I was involved in the political arena. My father was an admirer of Adlai Stevenson and he took me to the Stevenson for President headquarters and he volunteered me. That was my introduction to electoral politics, which was exciting and fun and thrilling, and very theatrical.”

“You have to participate in our democracy. Because, as my father used to say, ‘It’s a people’s democracy and it can be as great as the people can be, but also as fallible as the people are.’ It’s a participatory democracy and unless people participate, there will be those that manipulate or use the system for personal gain or to manipulate the government, which is what happened to us in my childhood. . . . LGBT equality happened because people engaged in the gay liberation movement that started with the Stonewall. Until then, there was very little activism participation in expanding equality for the LGBT people.”

“The barbed wire fences that incarcerated me as a child still exists invisibly in legalistic barbed wire fences confining people because of hysteria, which is what confined us. LGBT inequality, we’re starting to snap away at those legalistic barbed wire fences, but 19 states now have marriage equality. 44% of the people of the United States live in those states, but it’s still a patchwork and we are working to make our nation the United States of America.”

“I think the serenity at the heart of the Buddhist philosophy has allowed me to combat injustice and inequality with a certain level of patient perspective. It’s so necessary to engage those who would seek to oppress you, and to extend to them a hand in our common humanity. That’s the philosophy I try to maintain on the Facebook page — with a few adorable and irresistible cat pictures, of course.”

“I [have] a vibrant following among LGBT fans who have come to embrace my message of combatting idiocy with humor. It’s really hard to hate someone for being different when you’re too busy laughing together. So my early fans were also comprised of equality-minded activists ready to do battle against the ‘douchebags’ and bullies of the world.”

“We are still the human animal. When we were savages, the two things that we had that made us succeed as a being were our creative minds and our aggressive quality. Our creative mind provided us with the idea of creating tools and weapons, sharpening a stick and making it into a spear. Our killer instincts helped us get our food and protect our kind. Our mind kept developing and coming up with new tools and weapons, but our killer instincts didn’t change. We kept developing without the killer instinct becoming more intelligent. So here we are with weaponry that can annihilate civilizations. We’ve now advanced to the point from the ’60s Civil Rights movement to where we now have an African-American President. But we still have something like the Trayvon Martin case, where an African-American, particularly a male, is born a suspect. We have this law that protects this kind of behavior motivated by the killer instinct. We are faced with the dilemma of our creative minds providing us with these weapons, without progressing equally in the diplomatic, problem-solving way. That’s the big challenge of our time and our future generation.”

“Being gay is a natural part of who I am.”

“Gays and lesbians have been stereotyped by society. By sharing our experiences — both good and bad, enriching and unhappy — we humanize who we are. The lives and experiences of all of us are different and specific to each individual and by sharing those experiences we cease to be seen as the cartoons that were imposed on us.”

“The richness of our communities, our cities, and our nation lies in recognizing and celebrating our diversity. That diversity is not only in our various ethnicity and cultures, but also in the diversity of our sexual orientations. We all contribute, each in our own way, to the strength, vitality, and the well-being of our society.”

“Humor has always been my tool of choice when confronting intolerance or ignorance, not only because ‘funny’ material is much more likely to be shared (and thus seen), but also because I firmly believe we all, conservative or liberal, need to laugh more, even at ourselves, and even while standing up for our beliefs.”

“Pioneering is never done in front of cheerleaders urging on a roaring grandstand of popular approval.”

“We should indeed keep calm in the face of difference, and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity.”

“I think we learn more from those times in our history where we stumbled as a democracy than we learn from the glorious chapters.”

“I don’t believe in outing people because there are individual situations, but politicians who have taken a position contrary to what they really are they need to be called to task. You know it’s like when you’re training a dog to be housebroken you push his nose to the accident he’s committed. A politician who has been hypocritical and dishonest has no place in public service and they need to be called to task.”

“Hate never wins out in the end. It instead goes always to its lonely, dusty end.”

“You know, when a man is raped you never hear about what he was wearing.”

“The so-called ‘don’t say gay’ law is premised on the misguided belief that, by not talking about gay people, they can simply make us disappear. I am here to tell Tennessee and all LGBT youth and teachers who would be affected by this law, that I am here for you. In fact, I am lending my name to the cause. Any time you need to say the word ‘gay,’ you can simply say ‘Takei.'”

“The support of straight allies has been key, since they’ll be making the gay babies of the future.”

“Let me try to clear something up. ‘Freedom of speech’ does not mean you get to say whatever you want without consequences. It simply means the government can’t stop you from saying it. It also means OTHERS get to say what THEY think about your words. So if someone makes an ass of himself, don’t cry ‘freedom of speech’ when others condemn him. It only highlights your general ignorance.”