After the decision by California to allow same-sex marriages last Thursday, hundreds of queer couples are planning to get married, including George Takei and his partner, Brad Altman.
In his announcement on his web site, George Takei notes parallels in the struggle for same-sex marriage to the struggle for redress for Japanese Americans who were placed in concentration camps during World War II, noting that it took the federal government nearly 60 years to finally compensate those who were placed in these camps. Japanese Americans were seen as the scourge of World War II simply because of their race (and despite strong evidence to the contrary that they were the least likely to betray the American government); the queer community is likewise seen as a scourge by different populations because of who we love, and like him, I hope such discrimination is simply seen as lessons to be learned and to wonder what the hell people were thinking.
On a tangent, I still find it quite hilarious that it took Takei until 2005 to formally come out, even though his presence and support as part of the queer Asian American community was well known for decades beforehand. I remember being on the board of directors of Los Angeles’ Gay Asian Pacific Support Network back in 1997 and seeing him attend all of their major functions with his partner. George was known as a strong supporter of GAPSN and other queer Asian organizations around the country, so it was a bit of a surprise that most people didn’t know that he was queer when he actually came out 8 years later.
One other hilarious thing happened when he was inducted into the National Japanese American Hall of Fame about a month before George Takei came out in ’05, and for a musical dedication, a girl sang “Over the Rainbow,” causing stifled snickers and outright laughter from us queer folk, and confused looks from everybody else, since George Takei wasn’t born yet when The Wizard of Oz came out.
Congratulations to George and all the other queer couples who are planning their marriages!