The Takei Time

Star Trek put him on the map. Facebook launched him to superstardom. And a musical called Allegiance is earning him raves. What's next for George Takei? Only time will tell.

Interview by Randy Shulman
Published on January 24, 2013, 1:00am | Comments

In early May 2012, George Takei was driving along White Mountain Boulevard in Arizona, where he and his husband, Brad, own a getaway home. Cruising along, listening to the radio, an announcement jolted him: President Barack Obama was going to make a statement. On marriage equality.

"I pulled over and parked, because I knew it would be a profoundly important statement," recalls Takei. "I immediately called Brad and told him, 'Turn on the radio! Turn on the radio!'"

George Takei

George Takei

(Photo by courtesy George Takei)

Takei -- who laughs warmly, easily, frequently -- chuckles over this minor mishap. "I'm of my generation," sighs the 75-year-old actor. "My first reaction was radio."

He quickly amended his instructions to turn on the TV. What Brad saw -- and George heard on his car radio -- was a sitting president declare his support for same-sex marriage. It was a historic moment that did not go unappreciated by Takei.

"It was so moving to have the president of the United States make that statement in an election year where it would have certain consequences," he says, a note of admiration in his melodic basso profundo. "With all the pressure that was being brought on him on so many other issues, he was willing to take that bold stand because he felt it was right. And he won."

Obama's second term gives Takei hope -- hope for a brighter future for LGBT Americans, hope for the dissolution of DOMA, hope for a world where gay youth who come out are not met with the vitriol of homophobia.

"There are still extremely strict families that are homophobic," he says, "and the most heartbreaking thing of all is these young people who are either kicked out of their homes or run away from home." He praises the work of gay and lesbian youth shelters for providing support, solace and love to these cast-offs. "These gay and lesbian centers," he says, softly, "are so important."

Takei himself came out softly at first. His public pronouncement came decades after he'd acquired fame as Lt. Cmdr. Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek series and after his renowned stints on The Howard Stern Show in the '90s, where his utterances of "Oh, myyyy" attained legendary status in the pop-culture stratosphere. Takei announced to the world he was a gay man in a 2005 interview with Frontiers magazine, revealing at the time that he'd been in a relationship with Altman for 18 years. In 2008, the two were married in California, in those joyous, legal moments before the encroachment of Proposition 8.

Takei is a relentless advocate for LGBT rights -- but he's even more passionate about bringing to light a dark period in America's World War II history when Japanese-Americans were herded into internment camps because, says Takei, "[we] happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor." Takei has fostered and nurtured the creation of Allegiance, a musical that looks at the effects of internment on a Japanese-American family in the weeks and years following Pearl Harbor. Written by composer Jay Kuo, with a book by Kuo, Lorenzo Thione and Marc Acito, Takei stars in the production along with Lea Salonga and Telly Leong. The musical played at The Old Globe in San Diego to enormous acclaim (and box-office records) and is now Broadway bound.

But a funny thing happened to George Takei during his efforts to get the word out about Allegiance: He became a Facebook superstar.

"We were tilling [Internet] soil to build an audience for Allegiance," says Takei. "But you can't do it by just having an Allegiance website." So he took to Facebook, where he reached out to his base of sci-fi fans by posting sci-fi memes with amusing commentary. "Then you add some kittens," he says, "because they seem to be successful in garnering an audience."

The audience grew. And grew. And "before you know it, you have hundreds of thousands of people and you say, 'Oh, my goodness, this thing has a life of its own.' And so you keep doing what you find to be successful." Successful is an understatement. As of this moment, Takei has an astounding 3.3 million "Likes." Fans send him thousands of memes, hoping one will appear in his frequent daily posts, complete with one of his wryly observational, saucy puns. Takei also uses the page to promote serious causes near and dear to his heart. And he's just released an e-book on his Internet experience, Oh Myyy! (There Goes the Internet), with a print edition to follow soon.

Takei's Facebook presence exhibits just how engaging, how indelible, how extraordinary a personality he is. Where so many actors are forever defined by their past roles, trapped in a loop of singularity, George Takei has blossomed by forging into the future. He does not renounce his past as Sulu but he has also reclaimed himself from it. He has become his own force of nature, an international phenomenon so strong, so culturally relevant that one could almost call this period in popular culture, The Takei Time.

METRO WEEKLY: When was the first moment you realized -- that you thought to yourself -- ''I am a gay man?''

GEORGE TAKEI: It doesn't come at a moment in time. It's a slow, gradual recognition of who you are. I remember, even in grammar school, I was excited more by my classmates -- boys, a few particular boys. Other boys kept saying, ''Oh, yes, Monica is gorgeous, she's hot,'' and all that. I thought she was all right, but Richard and Bobby were the cuter ones that really excited me. So I realized that even back then I knew I was different from the other guys, I just didn't vocalize it.

Then in junior high it grew, but I realized that that wasn't what the other guys did, so I played the part and dated girls and went to the prom. All the while the boys were more interesting, more exciting. Like at summer camp, one particular counselor -- blond and very tanned, with glistening blond forearm hair -- was really sexy. So it's a gradual realization that I'm different, but it's not like what the other boys are like. You hide it.

Sen. Dan Inouye, George Takei, Brad Altman and Irene Hirano Inouye

Sen. Dan Inouye, George Takei, Brad Altman and Irene Hirano Inouye

MW: What was your first experience?

TAKEI: It was at age 14. With a camp counselor. It was exciting -- it was also kind of scary and delicious. All those things at the same time. He said not to talk about it, and I didn't want to talk about it. I was kind of afraid to have it again, despite the fact that it was so wonderful, because it was forbidden.

MW: How did being Japanese-American play into that culturally? Was there a guilt component?

TAKEI: There wasn't a guilt component. But even in the Japanese-American community, it wasn't spoken about. It was not societally acceptable. My father was a liberal Democrat politically, but, you know, homosexuality was never even discussed, much less thought of. And so I knew that it was going to be a secret thing that I was going to keep. So I hid it and played a double role.

MW: Did you come out to your parents?

TAKEI: My father had passed by the time I was ready to come out, but I'd like to think given his philosophy and orientation to society he would have accepted me. He was very supportive of me in everything. My father understood me, knew who I was, encouraged my interests. He knew I was a theatrically oriented kid. I remember when we first came out of the [internment camps], we were absolutely poverty stricken. We were penniless. But he said, ''There's a form of theater that's dying out, and you may never be able to see it again." I thought the whole family was going to be going, but he took just me on the streetcar to downtown Los Angeles to the Orpheum Theatre to see vaudeville. It was a thrilling discovery, but at the same time the structure itself -- the Orpheum Theatre -- was an amazing revelation. It had been a few months since we came out of internment camp and here's this vast, vaulting space, gilded, with crystal chandeliers glittering and plush carpeting -- and that's just in the lobby.

Finally, after my father passed I came out to my mother. I'd been with Brad for some time and he was more than just a friend as I had told them he was. It was a little difficult for her, but she also knew Brad as a person and it wasn't like an idea -- you know, "George likes guys," it was Brad. She knew the person -- it was personalized -- and so ultimately she came around.

MW: How old were you at the time?

TAKEI: In my 30s. I was out quietly. I chose to be an actor, and that again puts another emphasis on being closeted because you go out for auditions -- and I liked to think I was equally qualified for a role as anybody else there, but it's either too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too Asian or not Asian enough, that sort of thing. And I didn't want to add another "too this" or "too that." It wasn't a plus to be known as gay so you keep that hidden. Being an actor, it was easy to play the part [of straight].

MW: If you were an out gay actor in 1966, do you think you would have been cast in the original Star Trek series?

TAKEI: It's an iffy question, but most of my Star Trek colleagues [knew]. And I felt comfortable with my colleagues. When you're doing a series, you're with each other for months on end for each season, and you have the wrap party on Friday nights -- the beer is trundled out and the pizza's ordered in and people bring their wives or husbands or boyfriends or girlfriends. And I had my friend at the time come. Show people, movie people, they're sophisticated people. So when I had a male friend with me, my colleagues took it in stride. And if it's the same guy more than a couple of times, they say, ''Oh, I get it.'' And that's it. They know, but they understand and keep it quiet.

This is an anecdote I've told before, but Walter Koenig, who played Chekhov, and I were standing at the coffee urn one morning as the extras were assembling on the set. Walter kept making this head gesture, signaling me to turn around and look behind me. So I turned around and looked. There was this gorgeous young guy in a tight Starfleet shirt with wonderful pectorals and great, flashing blue eyes and brunette hair. He was strikingly handsome. I turned around and grinned and Walter winked. That's when I realized Walter knew. There was this kind of silent understanding of the situation.

MW: It must have been very gratifying to know that Walter was saying, ''I know and I accept it," but in a tacit way of doing so.

TAKEI: Exactly.

MW: This begs the question: Do you prefer men in Starfleet uniform?

TAKEI: [Laughs.] I prefer them out of it.

MW: William Shatner was famously --

TAKEI: Clueless.

MW: He made such a fuss about not being invited to yours and Brad's wedding.

TAKEI: Let me tell you about that. He did get an invitation. We wanted to be inclusive so we sent invitations to every one of the members of the cast. And we heard from every one of them except Bill. Which was not surprising, because that's Bill's modus operandi. Bill has a very inflated sense of the tier in the pecking order that he belongs to. He won't deign to come to a party that the rest of us had, but he would go to a party that Leonard might have. When one of us gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we all gather to support and applaud and celebrate -- except Bill. Even that famous rollout of the space shuttle Enterprise, we all went, except Bill. Bill never comes to things. He wasn't even at Gene Roddenberry's funeral or Majel Roddenberry's funeral.

So we weren't surprised when Bill didn't RSVP for our wedding. We said, "It's typical Bill." And the wedding came and went, and two months after the wedding he goes on YouTube and publicly rants and raves about George not inviting him to the wedding. We were absolutely baffled. I mean if he wanted to come -- and maybe something happened to the mail -- he could have phoned us. Why go public two months later when there's no point to it? Then Brad and I happened to be driving down Sunset Boulevard shortly after his rant, and there's this huge billboard that reads ''William Shatner's Raw Nerve," his new talk show. He needed publicity and the best way to get publicity is to create a controversy.

The other point that underscores how phony that rant was is that he was on The Howard Stern Show promoting something else -- I think he had a book coming out -- and Howard asked him about our wedding and so forth, and he went into that rant again. Then Howard said, ''Well, what do you think of Brad?'' And Bill says, ''Who's Brad?'' He had no idea of my husband's name, no idea who Brad was. They had to tell him. He's the guy that George married. He's George's husband. And he sputtered a bit. He does it all for publicity.

MW: Do you ever look at your old Star Trek performances, particularly from the original series?

TAKEI: The little clip that I get constantly exposed is my fencing bit from The Naked Time. Whenever there's an Internet piece on me they run that. I've seen that a zillion times, but that was the most fun episode that I got a chance to do. I was in pretty good shape then, but a little on the hammy side.

MW: Do you prefer the movies to the TV series?

TAKEI: Each has its pluses and minuses. Television goes at a nice rapid pace -- you don't get rehearsals and it keeps you on your toes. Movies -- particularly the very first Star Trek movie, on which they had a huge budget -- doesn't call for you to be doing much except sitting at the console. It's lethargy that you have to fight the most when you're on camera -- to make it as alive as possible demands all the professionalism you can bring. You have these long waits in between set-ups. They futz with every little nuance. Which is wonderful, but at the same time as an actor you have to keep the adrenalin going and that becomes the big challenge.

George Takei as Mr. Sulu on the set of ''Star Trek''

George Takei as Mr. Sulu on the set of ''Star Trek''

MW: I'm just going to ask you directly: Do you like the very first movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture?

TAKEI: No, frankly. As a matter of fact I still remember how we reacted at the premiere. It was held in Washington, D.C., at the Air and Space Museum. Walter sat next to me. The movie was slow and ponderous, and throughout the picture we kept turning and staring at each other with that quizzical look, "Is this the way it's supposed to be?" It wasn't the way we saw it in our mind's eye. It was, I must say, not what we thought it was going to be.

MW: It was the wrong director. Robert Wise was not the right choice.

TAKEI: Well, you know, directors reach their peak, and then they kind of ride on their reputation. That's what seemed to be happening with Bob Wise. He was perched on his tall director's chair, looking very wise, but he didn't give us much direction.

MW: Well, they fixed everything with The Wrath of Khan. I remember thinking, ''This is what the first movie should have been like." But maybe Wrath of Khan was better because of that first mess.

TAKEI: I think so. In fact, they kind of de-fanged Gene Roddenberry. They brought in [producer] Harv Bennett and he knew how to tell a story at a television pace. He resurrected Khan, which was one of our more popular episodes, and made it into a rip-snortin' good movie.

MW: I've got to ask you about Ricardo Montalban: Was that a real chest or a prosthetic chest?

TAKEI: That was really him. He was very fit. He was doing pushups on the sound stage.

MW: I want a chest like that at his age.

TAKEI: You know, it's possible. It's all a matter of discipline and regularity. He was in great shape.

MW: Speaking of Khan, the previews imply that the villain in the new film may indeed be him. Do you know who the villain is?

TAKEI: I've been told, but I am sworn to secrecy. You'll find out. In May, as a matter of fact.

MW: Would you be in the reboot if they found a way to bring you into it?

TAKEI: I'm not in this one, I can tell you that. There's a little anecdote there. When they were casting the first reboot, I got a call from J.J. Abrams asking me to have breakfast. The first thought that came to mind, of course -- that lightbulb flashing -- was a cameo. And I was very excited about that. I met him for breakfast and we had a nice chat about generalities and then he came to the point. He said he's been looking at many actors to play my part and he wanted to get some of my thoughts on casting the new Sulu. He was focusing in on one actor in particular, and I said, ''Well, is the actor you're looking at Asian-American?" And he said, ''Yes,'' and I said, ''Well, that's all that matters.'' Then J.J. said, ''Well, I tried very hard to find a Japanese-American actor because you're Japanese-American." And I said, ''Well, that really doesn't matter. In fact, that wasn't Gene Roddenberry's concern.''

And I told him how Gene wanted the cast members to reflect the diversity of this planet Earth. Uhura is an African character. The captain is a North American. The engineer is a European. The doctor is not only an American but a Southerner. And he wanted my character to be an Asian character, incorporating the diversity of the world. The problem he had was finding a name for the Asian character because all Asian surnames are nationally specific. Tanaka is Japanese, Wong is Chinese, Kim is Korean. He didn't want to introduce that nationalistic element in the character. It was a real dilemma for him.

So Gene pasted up a map of Asia and was staring at it trying to figure out what name to come up with and found off the shores of the Philippines a sea called the Sulu Sea, and he thought, ''Ah, the waters of a sea touch all shores.'' And that's how the character came to be called Sulu.

So I said to J.J., ''So it really doesn't matter whether he's of Japanese ancestry or Chinese ancestry or Korean ancestry, as long as he is of Asian ancestry. Comforted by that, J.J. went on to cast John Cho, who is of Korean ancestry. When he told me that I said, ''Oh, he's a fine actor. He would make a great Sulu.'' And so that's what came out of that breakfast. Not a cameo.

MW: John did a great job honoring the legacy of your character.

TAKEI: He did an excellent job. In fact, I'm green with envy because he got to skydive in that movie.

MW: You got to transport! Most of us don't get to transport to places!

TAKEI: [Laughs.] It's wonderful to sparkle and disappear and, in a few seconds, sparkle again at your destination and transform yourself.

MW: If science fiction is the precursor to what will happen in terms of future technology, we will perhaps one day get to that point.

TAKEI: You know, they have actually teleported a molecule about a foot. So that's the beginning.

MW: Let me know when they develop something that doesn't turn you into a mutant fly creature and I'll give it a go.

TAKEI: I wish I could let you know, but I don't think it's going to happen within my lifetime. Though I have the genes of a very long-lived side of my family. My grandmother lived to 104.

George Takei

George Takei

MW: Let's talk about your time in the internment camps. How did that experience help to form who you are?

TAKEI: Well, I was 5 years old when we were rounded up, and 8 when I came out of the camp, so those were very formative years. But I really didn't understand that experience. You know, a child is amazingly adaptable.

I remember the barbed wire fence and the sentry towers with the machine guns pointed at us, and the searchlight that followed me when I made the midnight runs from our barrack to the latrine. But that became part of the routine of life in the internment camp. Everybody I knew lived the same way. In fact, as a child I thought it was nice that they lit the way for me to the latrine at night. To my parents -- to the adults -- it was very intimidating, but for me, from a child's innocent perspective, it was the way I went to pee. And they lit the way for me.

So it wasn't until I came out of the camp and realized that other kids didn't have that same kind of childhood. And I discovered from my parents that it was something like a prison camp -- and only bad people went to prison. So I was ashamed of that part of my childhood. As a teenager when I started reading history books and civics books, I thought my childhood was not what the civics books say America stands for. And so, I had very intense after-dinner conversations with my father.

My father was an unusual man. Many Japanese-Americans of my parents' generation didn't like to talk about it because they felt ashamed by it. But my father wanted me to understand our experience, and so he went into detail about our incarceration and after many, many discussions over the years, I remember his summary of it saying, ''Both the strength and the weakness of American democracy is in the fact that it's a peoples' democracy and it can be as great as a people can be, but it can also be as fallible as people are, and that's why good people have to be actively engaged in the process, to literally hold democracy's feet to the fire, to make it do the right thing."

I realized later on that my father was guiding all his children into being part of the political process. Before I could even vote, he took me to the Adlai Stevenson for President headquarters. He was a great admirer of Gov. Stevenson's, and he volunteered me for the campaign. I enjoyed it. So he was the one that made me aware of the importance of our being active participants in the political process as volunteers, certainly as informed voters.

MW: Your father sounds remarkable.

TAKEI: He was an extraordinary man. He was strong. He knew how to create opportunities. He had a good sense of timing. I'm sure he would have been enormously successful had it not been for the disruption of the internment. He became very successful in real estate starting in the mid-1950s.

He was fluent in both Japanese and English and in the camps was able to communicate with the older generation as well as the younger generation. He was elected block manager, sort of like the representative of the block, in both the Arkansas camp and later at the camp we were transferred to in Northern California. The Arkansas camp was called ''Rohwer'' and the Northern California camp was called ''Camp Tule Lake," a lovely name for an ugly place. It was a dry lakebed, more like a desert, but the sand was gritty and sharp and hard rather than soft and sandy.

MW: Which brings us to Allegiance, your musical about life in the camps. It's obviously a very important project to you.

TAKEI: It's my legacy project. This is what I want my legacy to be. It's the story I've been telling for decades now. I'm always taken aback when people who seem to be otherwise well-informed say to me that they had no idea something like that -- the internment -- happened in the United States. I think it's especially important for informed, educated people to know about the dark chapters of our democracy -- chapters where democracy stumbled -- because you learn more from them than from the glorious chapters.

From way back, I've been going on speaking tours to universities as well as corporations and government agencies, particularly in May, which has been designated Asian-American Heritage Month. But I have found that at those speaking engagements, people are already informed. I'm singing to the choir. I needed to reach a larger -- and unwashed, if you will -- audience.

It's particularly important because it didn't happen just to Japanese-Americans -- it happened to our United States Constitution. It was egregiously violated because we have, in this country, a core, the pillar of our justice system, which is called due process. When you're arrested, you have the right to know what the charges are and then you have a right to challenge those charges in a court of law. In our case, there were no charges, no trial, we were just summarily rounded up because we happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. It was a racist, unconstitutional act on the part of a hysterical nation.

MW: It may very well be the very first instance of profiling in this country.

TAKEI: It was, it was. I mean, we were Americans. My mother was born in Sacramento. My father was born in Japan, but he was brought to San Francisco as a 9-year-old. And I was born in Los Angeles. My grandparents were of the generation that came to the United States. We were Americans.

MW: The musical has been a great success so far.

TAKEI: The first reading of it was held at the Japanese American National Museum. That would be the toughest audience composed of curators, docents, staffers at the museum. When the play ended there wasn't a dry eye there and we knew we were on the right track. There have since been about a half-dozen different iterations of that same play, before we got to the production at the Old Globe in San Diego. And there in San Diego, after the first performance, there was a spontaneous immediate standing ovation and we had a good sense that we were hitting the right notes. Then the reviews came out a few days later -- unanimous raves. We closed in early November, and we discovered that we broke all box-office records in the distinguished 77-year history of the Old Globe. So we hold the box-office record -- as well as the attendance records -- of the Old Globe Theater.

MW: Is there a Broadway run in its future?

TAKEI: We are transferring to Broadway next fall.

MW: Do you know which theater yet?

TAKEI: No, not yet, because we don't know what's going to be available then, and we want the right size theater. We don't want something as small as the Helen Hayes or anything as big as The Marquee. We want something around 13-hundred seats.

MW: What will you do if Allegiance wins a Tony?

TAKEI: [Laughs.] We'll pop a bottle of Champagne. Maybe many bottles.

MW: Let's move to Facebook, where you are an undeniable superstar. There's just no other way to put that. When I told a friend I was speaking to you, he emailed me, ''Tell him how awesome he is.''

TAKEI: Isn't that something? On Facebook I have 3.1 million friends, and it's an amazing thing. The memes we share are memes that people have sent us. They give us the material and I comment on it and post it and from there it goes viral.

But it's going to become a challenge. Everything in life changes -- there is nothing more constant than change -- and Facebook has now become publicly owned and they have stockholders to answer to and have to generate revenue. So we're discovering that they are trying to find ways to make money. We discovered that some people weren't getting our postings. We wondered why that was. What we discovered was that Facebook has developed this thing called ''edge ranking,'' where the followers who respond most often are the ones get my postings. If there isn't much response from the others, they don't get all the postings. But if you want them to get the postings, then you have to pay to reach them.

We don't want to pay for something that we weren't paying for. So we're trying to stimulate ways of getting people to respond -- not just in terms of likes, but in other ways. So the challenge is figuring out how to play this game -- and that's getting to be fun.

George Takei and his husband Brad Altman

George Takei and his husband Brad Altman

MW: How many hours a day on Facebook do you spend?

TAKEI: Generally, I spend a couple of hours every day. We also have a stockpile -- a backlog -- of memes that I've commented on, so when I'm working on a film or in rehearsals for Allegiance, we have those backlogs and have interns that post them for us.

MW: Your commentary on the memes is hilarious.

TAKEI: [Laughs.] Well, you know, there's a punny streak in me.

MW: Do you marvel at how many people are waiting avidly for your next post?

TAKEI: It is amazing. As matter of fact, we can walk down the street, particularly in New York, and people recognize not only me but Brad, because we slip in Brad on some of the videos that we do. And Brad being a little bit taller is more visible in a crowded place and people recognize Brad and then look for me.

MW: You and Brad have been together for how long now?

TAKEI: Twenty-five years now.

MW: What's the secret to your success?

TAKEI: What we do every night -- even after we've had an intense argument -- is kiss each other before we go to bed. Sometimes it may be a begrudging peck on the cheek.

MW: That's the secret?

TAKEI: It seems so silly, but yes. We also made a compact. I would make the big overall decisions and Brad would be the guy to execute those decisions. Well, I've discovered that sometimes those broad decisions are executed without my making them. [Laughs.]

MW: Do you still wake up in the morning and look at Brad and feel the love that you felt 25 years ago?

TAKEI: Yes. I love to hear his breathing and sometimes his snoring right next to me. Brad travels with me wherever I go, even when it's some business thing. He'll roam around the city while I'm in meetings. Our lives are intertwined.

MW: It's nice to find that kind of lasting love.

TAKEI: It is. And you know, in many ways, because we're gay and there's this public sense that gays aren't stable, we feel that we're blessed in that we can be as happy as we are together. I don't mean it in the all lovey-dovey things, but it's a normal kind of thing between two people. You have your differences and you have your arguments, but that's all part of it. And at night, when you're going to bed, you see that all that arguing is really petty and silly. We really love each other and that's what really counts.

MW: How old is Brad, may I ask?

TAKEI: Brad is 57. I'm 75.

MW: So nearly a 20-year difference between you. Has that ever been an issue?

TAKEI: Well, it is a concern on the part of both of us because we have DOMA to contend with. We had very good friends, a couple -- a gay couple -- in Washington, D.C. They'd been together for almost 20 years. Mark went out of town on business and when he came back and opened the apartment door, he found his partner on the floor. He had had a heart attack and had passed. His partner's brother lived in Boston -- they were estranged for a long, long time. He happened to be a lawyer and he came down and took everything. And that is a big concern with us. The laws are against us.

That's what the Boston case that's before the Supreme Court is all about. It was a lesbian couple, and one passed and because their union -- they were married in Massachusetts -- but because their union is not federally recognized because we have DOMA, the surviving spouse would have had to pay over half of the deceased's estate tax, which would not have happened if they were straight. I mean, it's a cruel situation. And me being older than Brad, I'm very concerned about that. We built our lives together. Our estate is ours, and I want it to go to Brad without that kind of taxation, like any married couple who have been together for 25 years.

There are hundreds of laws that make life difficult and sometimes cruel for LGBT couples because of DOMA. And we are optimistic that we can live to the point where we will see DOMA gone forever -- and I think that's going to be very soon. In fact, next year is going to be a good year, I think, for the LGBT community because that issue is before the Supreme Court. We also have Proposition 8 before the Supreme Court. Two courts have already ruled it unconstitutional and I am almost confident that it's going to be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. But the Boston case is the important one because it challenges DOMA.

So I think it's an amazing thing that's happening in our lifetime. And 2013 is going to be eminently fulfilling for our community. I think the Supreme Court is going to come through for us. I'm an optimist.

George Takei's Oh, Myyy! is currently available as an e-book on iTunes and Follow George Takei on Facebook at and on Twitter at @GerogeTakei. Learn more about Allegiance at

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