I just came across a fascinating article on After Elton.com, a lgbt new blog. They interview Brannon Braga – one of the main writers and creative minds behind Star Trek TNG, DS9, & Voyager asking him why we never saw any gay characters in Star Trek. The author of the article points out that “in 1991 Gene Roddenberry told The AdvocateThe Next Generation would at least show gay crew members as part of ship life. Unfortunately, Roddenberry died that year and none of the subsequent episodes featured gay people at all.”
Here is more of the fascinating interview:
AfterElton (AE): I’m very much a fan of Star Trek but unfortunately none of the series ever included a gay character. You were involved with writing two of the movies and produced or executive produced for The Next Generation, Voyager and Enterprise. Can you speak to why that never happened?
BB: It was a shame for a lot of us that … I’m talking about the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and there was a constant back and forth about well how do we portray the spectrum of sexuality. There were people who felt very strongly that we should be showing casually, you know, just two guys together in the background in Ten Forward. At the time the decision was made not to do that and I think those same people would make a different decision now because I think, you know, that was 1989, well yeah about 89, 90, 91. I have no doubt that those same creative players wouldn’t feel so hesitant to have, you know, have been squeamish about a decision like that.
AE: Why do you think science fiction, given that it’s so much forward looking, has done so poorly when it comes to being inclusive on American television?
BB: You know what’s funny is it was dealt with more metaphorically. Next Generation did a couple episodes you could say … I worked on one for Deep Space Nine with Dax. I don’t know if I can speak to the whole genre of science fiction, certainly the Star Trek franchise as it existed at the time.
AE: Do you think 20 years ago there was a reluctance to do it because science fiction, wrongly or rightly, is perceived as being for young straight males? Were you guys concerned about that?
BB: I think it was, not so much a young man’s [issue], it was a syndicated family show, showing at six o’clock, you know, in Salt Lake City, so you had to deal with each separate affiliate rather than one network. And things like that.
It was not a forward thinking decision. Knowing the players involved, knowing the decision makers, knowing it was that they felt reluctant about, you know, we’re not saying “yes,” we’re not saying “no,” we’re not just not going to touch that right now.
AE: Do you think if the next iteration of the series or movie doesn’t go there, do gay fans have a right to be really upset at this point? After all this, if it still doesn’t go there in 2011 0r 2012…
BB: Well, I mean, the movie is such a different bird. If there were a TV series, I would agree with you. But for a movie, I personally wouldn’t. With a TV series you’re creating a whole world, you’re creating a whole. You were saying, if this is going to last for five years, and if you don’t go there, then yes you got some questions. A two-hour movie and you’re sitting there and you’re eating your popcorn, if doesn’t fit … if it’s not part of the story, it’s not part of the story. There are many things that aren’t part of the story, you know? That’s my personal opinion.
Read the entire article here.