Sexuality in Star Trek
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Sexuality has been a significant theme in the various Star Trek television and motion-picture series. Sexual relationships in Star Trek have mostly been depicted as heterosexual in nature. There have been depictions of bisexual relationships, but always with a twist (e.g. using characters in a mirror universe instead of the 'real' ones, or Dax and Kahn in Rejoined had been a heterosexual couple in their former lives). Inter-species and inter-ethnic relationships have been commonly depicted. A comparatively broader range of views has been shown with respect to monogamy, polygamy, and the institution of marriage. Inasmuch as sexuality can lead to reproduction, some plots have revolved around the possibility of children in a given inter-species relationship, as well as the prejudice that the resulting children have to endure from their parents' societies. The representations reflect contemporaneous attitudes to sexuality of American metropolitan culture, first during the sixties and then in later decades of the twentieth century.
- 1 Marriage in Star Trek
- 2 Sexuality outside of marriage
- 3 Interracial relationships
- 4 LGBT in Star Trek
- 5 Sexuality in species with alternative genders
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Marriage in Star Trek
Many major species in the Star Trek universe are depicted as having mainly monogamous, heterosexual marital relationships. Major characters who became married to each other include Keiko and Miles O'Brien, Worf and Jadzia Dax, Leeta and Rom, Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres, William Riker and Deanna Troi, and Jean-Luc Picard and Beverly Crusher (in the alternate future of the episode "All Good Things..."). Other characters noted as being married include Leonard McCoy (divorced before the events of Star Trek), Beverly Crusher, Katherine Pulaski, Benjamin Sisko, Tuvok, and T'Pel. The Doctor, a holographic individual, spent time with his own holographic family and got married to a human woman in the alternate timeline from which Admiral Janeway returns. James Kirk, experiencing memory loss, marries a Native American woman, Miramanee. The marriage lasts for several months, until Miramanee's death. The wedding of two crewmen commences but is interrupted in "Balance of Terror."
The end of the Next Generation episode "Up the Long Ladder" depicts a two groups of human colonists, one of which is entirely made of clones that have begun to show genetic defects, being told that they must resort to polyamory, or at least a relaxation of monogamy, as a requirement to maintain genetic viability. In the episode, Dr. Pulaski advises that each woman have a child by three different men and each man father a child with three different women to ensure sufficient genetic diversity.
In the 1991 episode of Next Generation, "Data's Day", Data mentions that Bolian marriages require three individuals. The 1999 episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, "Field of Fire" references this, when Dax mentions that a deceased male Bolian crew member had a co-husband in addition to a wife.
The first regular cast member to be a part of a polyamorous marriage was Phlox, the Denobulan doctor aboard the Enterprise (NX-01) on Enterprise. He had three wives, who in turn each had two other husbands besides him, and these were open marriages where spouses were free to pursue sexual relationships with others, as evidenced when one of Phlox's wives visited the Enterprise and openly flirted with Trip Tucker, in the episode "Stigma".
Sexuality outside of marriage
Most relationships into which Starfleet officers enter are brief, nonmarital, serially monogamous. Officers are frequently seen to have sexual relationships lasting no more than an episode. William Riker is an example of this. In the film Star Trek Generations, Kirk reminisces over his girlfriend of two years, Antonia, and regrets never marrying her. In the Nexus temporal anomaly, he is provided a second chance and decides to marry her. In actuality, the Nexus is not real and the marriage never takes place.
Deltans, a race introduced in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, are so profoundly sexual that they must swear an oath of celibacy upon entering Starfleet to avoid harming non-Deltans they may serve with.
Religious figures, as in real life, are not necessarily bound by rules of celibacy in the Star Trek universe. On the deeply religious world of Bajor, for instance, even the spiritual leaders may enter non-marital sexual relationships without religious disapproval.
The episode is often cited as the "first interracial kiss" depicted on television, between James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lt. Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), but the reality is not so straightforward. William Shatner recalls in Star Trek Memories that NBC insisted their lips never touch (the technique of turning their heads away from the camera was used to conceal this); moreover, the episode portrays the kiss as involuntary, being forced by telekinesis. However, Nichelle Nichols insists in her autobiography Beyond Uhura (written in 1994 after Shatner's book) that the kiss was real, even in takes where her head obscures their lips.
The term "interracial" is used in this context to refer to black and white actors. Star Trek had also previously featured an interracial kiss between William Shatner and France Nuyen in "Elaan of Troyius" but had drawn no comment. Nancy Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. kissed in the 1967 NBC TV special Movin' With Nancy (though on British television the event had happened earlier in a 1964 episode of a prime-time hospital soap Emergency – Ward 10).
Despite this, when NBC executives learned of the kiss they became concerned it would anger TV stations in the conservative Deep South. Earlier in 1968, NBC had expressed similar concern over a musical sequence in a Petula Clark special in which she touched Harry Belafonte's arm, a moment cited as the first occasion of direct physical contact on American television between a man and woman of different races. At one point during negotiations, the idea was brought up of having Spock kiss Uhura instead, but William Shatner insisted that they stick with the original script. NBC finally ordered that two versions of the scene be shot—one where Kirk and Uhura kissed and one where they did not. Having successfully shot the former version of the scene, Shatner and Nichelle Nichols deliberately flubbed every take of the latter version, thus forcing the episode to go out with the kiss intact. As Nichelle Nichols writes:
Knowing that Gene was determined to air the real kiss, Bill shook me and hissed menacingly in his best ham-fisted Kirkian staccato delivery, "I! WON'T! KISS! YOU! I! WON'T! KISS! YOU!"
It was absolutely awful, and we were hysterical and ecstatic. The director was beside himself, and still determined to get the kissless shot. So we did it again, and it seemed to be fine. "Cut! Print! That's a wrap!" The next day they screened the dailies, and although I rarely attended them, I couldn't miss this one. Everyone watched as Kirk and Uhura kissed and kissed and kissed. And I'd like to set the record straight: Although Kirk and Uhura fought it, they did kiss in every single scene. When the non-kissing scene came on, everyone in the room cracked up. The last shot, which looked okay on the set, actually had Bill wildly crossing his eyes. It was so corny and just plain bad it was unusable. The only alternative was to cut out the scene altogether, but that was impossible to do without ruining the entire episode. Finally, the guys in charge relented: "To hell with it. Let's go with the kiss." I guess they figured we were going to be cancelled in a few months anyway. And so the kiss stayed.
There were, however, few contemporary records of any complaints commenting on the scene. Nichelle Nichols observes that "Plato's Stepchildren" which first aired in November 1968 "received a huge response. We received one of the largest batches of fan mail ever, all of it very positive, with many addressed to me from girls wondering how it felt to kiss Captain Kirk, and many to him from guys wondering the same thing about me. Interestingly, however, almost no one found the kiss offensive" except from a single mildly negative letter by a white Southerner. Nichols notes that "for me, the most memorable episode of our last season was 'Plato's Stepchildren'."
Later interracial relationships
Relationships between humans of different races have been depicted in more modern series, for example the marriage of Keiko O'Brien, who is Asian (Japanese), and Miles O'Brien, who is European (Irish).
Relationships between characters of different species have sometimes been used as an analogy for interracial relationships.
As evidenced by the existence of Spock, inter-species mating has been a part of Star Trek since its first episode. The original series, its animated follow-up, Star Trek, and Star Trek V: The Final Frontier all contained instances in which Spock had to deal with the consequences of his human–Vulcan biology. Subsequent series that featured at least one regular or recurring character who was the result of an interspecies coupling include Deanna Troi on The Next Generation, Ziyal on Deep Space Nine, and B'Elanna Torres and Naomi Wildman on Voyager. On Enterprise the series' penultimate story arc dealt with the first human–Vulcan offspring. In "Terra Prime", a cloned child of Charles Tucker III and T'Pol was used by a xenophobic political group as an example of the "dangers" of inter-species breeding.
A species frequently involved in inter-species reproduction is human: Spock, Deanna Troi, K'Ehleyr, Sela, Lt. Daniel Kwan (a half-Napean in "Eye of the Beholder"), B'Elanna Torres, and Naomi Wildman are only a few Trek characters who have one human parent and one non-human parent.
Also Data, an android, has a sexual encounter with Tasha Yar, a human in the Next Generation episode "The Naked Now".
LGBT in Star Trek
The Pocket Books 1992 guideline for story submission, "How to Submit Creative Material," states: "We are not interested in books that suggest anything other than friendship among any of the Enterprise crewmembers.". None of the Star Trek films or television series have had any characters officially identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT), nor have there been stories that directly address LGBT rights.
Controversy has surrounded failed attempts to have one of the Star Trek spin-off television series feature LGBT crew members and to air episodes that deal with LGBT rights. In 1987, series creator Gene Roddenberry stated that there would be gay characters in The Next Generation. What has followed since then has been a controversy, among fans, as to how much of this promise has been fulfilled within the television spinoffs of the Star Trek world. However, LGBT characters and relationships have featured in non-canonical Star Trek spin-off media, including the Paramount licensed Star Trek novel line published by Pocket Books, as well as in a number of unlicensed Star Trek fan productions. The first Star Trek fan film to feature LGBT characters and themes was Star Trek: Hidden Frontier.
Star Trek's original series did not have any explicitly LGBT characters, although in 2005 George Takei, who portrayed helmsman Lt. Hikaru Sulu, came out as gay. In October 2011, Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the rebooted feature film franchise, publicly came out as gay. He explained that, after the suicide of bisexual teenager Jamey Rodemeyer, he realized "that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality."
Roddenberry once spoke of overcoming his own homophobia. In a 1991 interview with The Humanist, he remarked:
My attitude toward homosexuality has changed. I came to the conclusion that I was wrong. I was never someone who hunted down 'fags' as we used to call them on the street. I would, sometimes, say something anti-homosexual off the top of my head because it was thought, in those days, to be funny. I never really deeply believed those comments, but I gave the impression of being thoughtless in these areas. I have, over many years, changed my attitude about gay men and women.
According to The Advocate, Roddenberry promised that in the then-upcoming fifth season of TNG, gay crew members would appear on the show. Other stars of the franchise chimed in, with Leonard Nimoy (who played Spock) offering his support in a 1991 letter to the Los Angeles Times saying, "It is entirely fitting that gays and lesbians will appear unobtrusively aboard the Enterprise—neither objects of pity nor melodramatic attention."
However, Roddenberry died soon after his interviews and the announced plans to have a gay crew member on TNG never materialized. Control of the Star Trek franchise fell to Rick Berman. While no gay crew members appeared on TNG, "The Outcast" was one episode that was intended to address the subject of sexual discrimination in the Star Trek universe. The episode featured Soren, a member of an androgynous race called the J'naii, who find the concept of gender primitive and offensive. Soren, unlike most others of her race, reveals to Commander Riker that she is inclined toward a female identity and is attracted to him. Riker and Soren begin a secret romantic relationship, and when her people discover this, she is arrested and subjected to "psychotectic therapy", by which she has all elements of gender eliminated, and loses her attraction to Riker. The episode was met with both praise and criticism from the LGBT community. In the case of the latter, criticism came from people who felt that it sanctioned the brainwashing therapy to which Soren was subjected, and others who felt that the creative staff abdicated their responsibility to exploring the issue. Actor Jonathan Frakes, who played Riker, also commented that the episode was not daring enough, in that Soren, who was played by Melinda Culea, should have been more evidently male.
In a 2008 interview, Ronald D. Moore responded to the question of why there were few gay characters in science fiction in general and none on Star Trek thus:
We’ve just failed at it. It’s not been something we’ve successfully done. At Star Trek we used to have all these stock answers for why we didn’t do it. The truth is it was not really a priority for any of us on the staff so it wasn’t really something that was strong on anybody’s radar. And then I think there’s a certain inertia that you’re not used to writing those characters into these dramas and then you just don’t. And somebody has to decide that it’s important before you do it and I think we’re still at the place where that’s not yet a common – yeah, we have to include this and this is an important thing to include in the shows. Sci fi for whatever reason is just sort of behind the curve on all this.
[...] because of its both political and potentially incendiary substance. I'm in a minority as well, as a woman. It took a lot of courage on their part to hire a woman. I think that right up until the end they were very dubious about it. It's one thing to cast a subordinate Black, Asian or woman, but to put them in leading role means the solid endorsement of one of the largest studios in the world. And that goes for a gay character as well. It requires a terrific social conscience on their part and the pledge of some solidarity and unanimity, which I think is probably at the source of most of this problem to get every one of those executives on board regarding this decision.
That same year Mulgrew stated in an August 2002 interview for Out in America:
Well, one would think that Hollywood would be more open-minded at this point, since essentially the whole town is run by the gay community. It makes very little sense if you think about it. No, Star Trek is very strangely by the book in this regard. Rick Berman, who is a very sagacious man, has been very firm about certain things. I've approached him many, many times over the years about getting a gay character on the show — one whom we could really love, not just a guest star. Y'know, we had blacks, Asians, we even had a handicapped character — and so I thought, this is now beginning to look a bit absurd. And he said, "In due time." And so, I'm suspecting that on Enterprise they will do something to this effect. I couldn't get it done on mine. And I am sorry for that.
In a 1990 episode, "The Offspring", Data creates Lal, an android daughter, and the other crew members seek to explain humanoid sexuality to her. According to TNG research consultant Richard Arnold, Whoopi Goldberg changed her character's dialog from a strictly heterosexual explanation to a gender-neutral version:
According to the script, Guinan was supposed to start telling Lal, "When a man and a woman are in love ..." and in the background, there would be men and women sitting at tables, holding hands[...] But Whoopi refused to say that. She said, "This show is beyond that. It should be 'When two people are in love.'"
Brannon Braga in 2011 spoke about the
...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.
Suggesting that TNG in particular was under pressure from affiliates to be a "family show", Braga characterized the decision not to include LGBT characters as "not a forward thinking decision". Braga alluded to some episodes of TNG and one DS9 episode featuring Dax as dealing with non-heterosexuality metaphorically.
J. J. Abrams, who rebooted the franchise with 2009's Star Trek, said in 2011 that he was "frankly shocked that in the history of Star Trek there have never been gay characters in all the series". Including a gay character in the next film "was not in the list of my priorities to try to figure out how to make this movie in the best possible way. But it will now be in the hopper." Abrams did not commit to including an identifiably non-heterosexual character but did commit to bringing the idea to the writers. Ultimately, Star Trek Into Darkness did not include an identifiably LGBT character.
"Turnabout Intruder" (TOS)
In this episode, a woman gains power when by transferring into Kirk's body she gains power through the rank—and, she believes, the gender—of Kirk. She provides to the audience a look into her perspective through a few log entries.
"Blood and Fire" (TNG)
Science-fiction writer David Gerrold was with Roddenberry when he promised that Star Trek: The Next Generation (referred to by fans as TNG) would integrate LGBT characters into the series and thus drafted a script for an episode that would have had two male crew-members that were a couple, in the backdrop of an allegory about the mistreatment of people infected with AIDS. The title of this unproduced episode was "Blood and Fire". Gerrold has since said that while many of the TNG cast and crew (including Roddenberry) were supportive of the storyline, it met stiff opposition from the studio and the script never made it into production. Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission puts the blame on the studio: "Much of the change in perception of the script resulted from Paramount's concern that because the series was syndicated, in some markets it might air in the afternoon when younger viewers would be part of the audience." The October 1992 issue of Cinefantastique magazine laid much of the blame for the fate of the script on executive producer Rick Berman. Roddenberry publicly supported the idea of having gay characters on the show, and in internal meetings about "Blood and Fire" he is paraphrased by Herbert Wright as having said,
It's the 24th century. By that time nobody gives a shit! It's an issue of the 20th century and maybe the 19th century, but it has nothing to do with the 24th century. By that time it's your choice of whoever you want."
Yet, other fans accuse Roddenberry of hypocrisy by allowing studio executives such as Berman and Leonard Maizlish (Roddenberry's lawyer) to order rewrites of the script that removed the gay characters, and then were still nervous about the public reaction to an episode that offered a social critique of the hysteria that surrounded the AIDS epidemic. Other fans have suggested that office politics, including a labor dispute between Gerrold and Roddenberry, prevented the script from getting produced, rather than bigotry or hypocrisy on the part of Roddenberry or the studio. In a 1991 story by The Advocate, Ernest Over (Roddenberry's secretary) erroneously claimed that the script portrayed one of the men in the relationship as effeminate and the other as masculine. Gerrold apparently was so annoyed by this and other remarks that he sold copies of the script at conventions so that fans could judge for themselves; he donated most of the proceeds to the AIDS Project Los Angeles.
"The Offspring" (TNG)
The 1990 episode "The Offspring" shows Data creating an android offspring named Lal. Data makes Lal gender-neutral, to let Lal select whatever appearance Lal is comfortable with, but the dialogue reveals transphobia and gender policing, where Lal says, "I am gender neuter. Inadequate." Data replies, "That is why you must choose a gender, Lal, to complete your appearance." Lal eventually selects a female humanoid form after passing up being a human male, Klingon male, an Andorian female.
"The Outcast" (TNG)
In 1992, the episode titled "The Outcast" is a story in which Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) falls in love with Soren, a member of the J'naii androgynous humanoid race that views the expression of gender, especially sexual liaisons, as a sexual perversion. When the affair between Riker and Soren is discovered, the J'naii force Soren to undergo "psychotectic" therapy. Soren gets the chance to defend one's right to love regardless of sex, or gender, or lack thereof. Soren was played by actress Melinda Culea, and all of the main J'naii characters were played by females, a creative decision criticized by Frakes, who felt that Soren should have been played by a male.
Trill female Jadzia Dax (Terry Farrell) gave fans the first romantic same-sex kiss in Star Trek television. Dax has been described as a "bisexual woman in the most far-reaching sense", and as a joined Trill, a "serial hermaphrodite". In the 1995 episode "Rejoined", Jadzia considers reuniting with another female Trill, Dr. Lenara Kahn (played by Susanna Thompson). Originally the script called for Dr. Kahn to be played by a male actor, but it was changed because the producers felt that the audience would understand the Trill taboo being violated if it involved two women.[dead link] The Dax and Kahn symbionts had been married while the Dax symbiont was joined to a male host and the Kahn symbiont was joined with a different female host. However, by reuniting the two Trill would be violating a Trill taboo against re-establishing relationships of past hosts. The two women agree to part ways at the end of the episode and Jadzia Dax would return to dating men. No character in the episode makes an issue of Jadzia's and Lenara's genders.
The series did air an episode with some social commentary about the ills of mistreating people living with HIV/AIDS. The episode "Stigma" (2003) revealed that the Vulcan named T'Pol (played by Jolene Blalock) had become infected with a disease from a forced mind meld. The Vulcans who engage in mind melding and are infected with this disease are reviled outcasts in Vulcan society. Along with the episode's social commentary on the AIDS pandemic, bits of dialogue do, albeit broadly, address the issue of sexuality-based discrimination.
Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), does criticize the Vulcan society for having this prejudice based on a "disagreement" over how someone conducts their private life. When a Vulcan doctor (Lee Spencer) essentially "comes out" as a member of the mind-melding community, his brief speech is similar to the one made in the Outcast Next Generation episode.
Critics pointed out that the episode had been produced only because UPN (the network on which the show was broadcast) instructed the producers of all its programs to make HIV/AIDS-related episodes for the World AIDS Day awareness month. In an April 2003 interview with Trekweb, Berman stated, "'Stigma' was supposed to be our gay episode, but we sort of copped out."
- A few male extras in early episodes of The Next Generation appear wearing uniforms with short skirts. This appears to be a part of normal ship's business aboard the Enterprise. In later episodes of The Next Generation and in all episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, all characters wearing uniforms wear pants.
- In 1991, the episode titled "The Host" is a story in which Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) falls in love with Odan, a member of the Trill a symbiotic lifeform that uses a humanoid as a host. Odan's shuttle craft is attacked and the host dies. The Trill is placed in a new host which is a female humanoid. Odan confesses her love for Crusher, and Crusher remarks she is uncomfortable with the relationship because Odan is now a female.
- When the 1996 film Star Trek: First Contact was in production, a rumor circulated that one crew-member named Lieutenant Hawk (Neal McDonough) would be identified as gay in some subtle way. The Daily Mail and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reported on the rumor, but Berman quickly released a press statement that there were no LGBT characters in the film. However, Andy Mangels' and Michael Martin's novel Section 31: Rogue establishes Hawk as a gay character.
- In the book A Stitch in Time and in an Amazon.com interview, the actor Andrew Robinson stated that he played Garak as being bisexual, while at other times he stated that he felt that Garak was omnisexual, meaning that he loved people regardless of their gender.
- The DS9 series did allow a bisexual character in an alternative universe or mirror universe. The first DS9 mirror universe episode was "Crossover" (1994) and would be followed up by "Through the Looking Glass", "Shattered Mirror", "Resurrection" and finally "The Emperor's New Cloak". In the mirror universe, the evil Kira Nerys (Nana Visitor) exists in an alternative universe where she is bisexual.
- Deep Space Nine also used cross-dressing to introduce situational homosexuality for comic relief. In "Rules of Acquisition", Pel is a Ferengi in love with Quark. Pel is a female pretending to be a male in order to have a career in the sexist Ferengi society. She eventually confesses to Dax that she is in love with Quark. Dax then indicates she had guessed as much, though Dax is unaware of Pel's true sex at this point. She then asks Pel if Quark was aware of the infatuation, to which Pel responds "he doesn't even know that I'm a female". Quark refuses to acknowledge an impetuous kiss from Pel. When Quark learns that Pel is a female, he rejects her offer of a romantic and business partnership because he does not want to be an outcast in Ferengi society for having a female wife who was also his business partner.
- In the episode "Profit and Lace", Quark briefly is surgically altered to become a woman in an attempt to persuade a powerful Ferengi businessman that there would be profit in overturning the traditional Ferengi social code that Ferengi women should be naked. Quark and the Ferengi businessman would share a kiss while Quark is still in the guise of a female, becoming Star Trek's first male same-sex kiss.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Warlord", Kes's body is possessed by a male warlord named Tieran, who while in Kes's body engages in romantic relationships with both men and women, and even announces his engagement to another man. In one scene while possessed, Kes almost kisses another female, but is called away at the last moment. Later in the episode, she does kiss Tuvok.
Examples outside of Star Trek canon
Novels and comic books
In a seeming response to reams of Kirk/Spock fan fiction which began to dominate fan publications in the mid- to late 1970s, references to bisexuality occurred in Gene Roddenberry's 1979 novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In a foreword allegedly written by James Kirk, the Captain cleverly avoids confirmation or denial of a romantic relationship with Spock. Spock also in this novel refers twice to Kirk as 'T'hy'la', a term that a footnote explains means friend/brother/lover. Similarly, early Star Trek novels written by Vonda N. McIntyre, such as The Entropy Effect, had subplots referencing alternative lifestyles and family arrangements. McIntyre's novelizations of The Wrath of Khan (1982) and The Search for Spock (1984) also made reference, in passing, to such themes. The thrust of these references is that sexual orientation was simply not an issue and that the characters felt free to engage in whatever relationships they desired, irrespective of their gender. Della van Hise's Star Trek novel Killing Time is noted for its Kirk/Spock content (which was considerably more explicit in the first edition, later revised).
In the 1990s official Star Trek novels and comic books began to introduce minor Star Trek crewmembers, cadets and officers that were established as being LGBT. In each case, their sexual orientation was treated as a normal, personal trait, akin to religion, and the only homophobia that arose was from a particular alien race, who often ended up learning a lesson in tolerance. For example, Jeri Taylor (of Voyager) wrote Pathways, a novel concerning the early lives of the Voyager crew. In the book, the character of Harry Kim was revealed to have had, at one time, a gay roommate who harbored romantic feelings toward him, however this was never reciprocated as Harry was in the early stages of a heterosexual relationship. Also, in sections set in the present, two of Voyager's crewmembers (who never appeared or were referenced in the television series) were revealed to be in a gay couple, and this is simply mentioned and not treated as character flaw or a concern for any of the other crewmembers. Likewise Andy Mangels' and Michael A. Martin's novel Section 31: Rogue (2001) established Lieutenant Hawk as being gay and having a boyfriend named Ranul Keru. Keru further appeared in the Deep Space Nine novel Worlds of Deep Space Nine: Unjoined and the Titan series. The Starfleet Corps of Engineers e-book series includes a gay main character in Bart Faulwell.
Etana Kol and Kristen Richter are a lesbian couple and supporting characters in the DS9 Relaunch. In the novel Imzadi by Peter David, Lwaxana Troi tells that she had been part of an arranged marriage when younger but she called it off when she realized he was in love with someone else: "Another man." She further states that the same-sex pair "made a cuter couple than we did." The implication is clearly that either same-sex pairings are accepted in Betazed society or that Lwaxana is that accepting, or both.
The DS9 Relaunch novels also give a more complete view of Andorian biology and sexuality than was ever revealed in the series proper. They apparently have four genders, none of which are strictly "male" or "female", but two of which are often referred to as male and the other two as female for the ease of the usual bi-gendered species. Their reproductive process requires all four genders (that is, two "males" and two "females") to be together at once. While this is not a true analogue to any human sexuality, it is an interesting "alternative" sexuality whose depiction includes clear expressions of love between characters who would be seen by others as being the same gender. Emotional and physical problems resulting from this four-way bond play a prominent role throughout many of the Relaunch novels.
In Peter David's Star Trek: New Frontier series the character of Burgoyne 172 is hermaphroditic and bisexual, s/he has a brief relationship with helmsman Mark McHenry before entering into a relationship and fathering a child with Dr Selar. In the same series Selar's brother briefly features as a gay Vulcan; his father disapproves of this, though seemingly not through prejudice, but because he does not see the logic in sex without procreation.
In addition many other recent books contain smaller references to homosexual or bisexual characters. For example, the recent Vanguard series features a female Vulcan officer engaged in a relationship with a female Klingon spy disguised as a human—an action that, according to Klingon tradition, brings great dishonor to the Klingon in question. Also, The Next Generation novel The Best and the Brightest, by Susan Wright, features two classmates of the same gender from Starfleet Academy who eventually become involved in a romantic relationship by the end of the book. In To Reign in Hell several homosexual couples are also mentioned by Kirk's nemesis, Khan.
Instructions for authors that had previously wished to write officially licensed Star Trek spin-off books stated that there was to be no suggestion of a relationship "other than friendship" between crew members, but this restriction no longer applies.
Computer and video games
In 1995, Spectrum HoloByte released the graphic adventure MS-DOS computer game Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Final Unity, featuring voice talents from the television series of the same name. One of the levels involved going to a tropical world where aliens of the male gender were second class citizens, and Commander Data at one point made a reference to his kidnapping by the art collector in "The Most Toys".
In 2000, Activision released Star Trek: Voyager – Elite Force for Windows and the PlayStation 2. The game, a first-person shooter built around id Tech 3, allowed the player to choose between male and female avatars; irrespective of the gender chosen, a female character would flirt with the protagonist later on in the game.
In 1972, Grup, the first sexually themed Star Trek zine was published, to controversy in the fandom. In 1974 the first "publicly published" Star Trek slash fiction was presented in Grup #3. Kirk/Spock fan fiction was the first prominent slash pairing.
When Star Trek: Voyager came to air, fans created the "Voyager Visibility Project" in an effort to persuade the series to have one of its crew-members established as having a gay or bisexual orientation.
The club created enough of a letter writing campaign that in 1997, Voyager executive producer Jeri Taylor made the suggestion that Seven of Nine should be established as being a lesbian or bisexual. The internal suggestion was leaked to the press and the fan club and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a press release praising the decision to make the character the first gay character on the show.[unreliable source?] However, Paramount quickly issued a statement that Seven of Nine was going to be heterosexual, and afterwards Taylor explained that her suggestion was rejected by an unnamed superior. Yet, as with DS9, Voyager was able to drop hints about a hero's or villain's sexuality as long as it was never developed.
In 2008, Star Trek: Phase II released a two-part episode adapted from David Gerrold's "Blood and Fire". It introduced two gay crew members into the cast. Ens. Peter Kirk, Captain Kirk's nephew, is depicted as being deeply in love with Lt. Alex Freeman, and the two plan to marry.
In 2005 Craig Young of GayNZ.com criticized the absence of any out core or supporting lesbian or gay characters from the various television series and films, although granting that the series was more inclusive of transgender issues through the narrative use of the Trill species and non-consecutive gender symbiosis. He argued that the continued invisibility and absence of such characters may well have led to growing rejection of the Trek franchise and spin-off media by gay and lesbian Trekkers. He compared it unfavourably to series like Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Babylon 5.
Sexuality in species with alternative genders
Star Trek has occasionally centered plots around species who have more than two, or fewer than two, distinct genders. Sometimes, dual-gendered species have been portrayed as having distinctly non-human assignment of reproductive responsibilities.
A notable example is that of an Enterprise episode titled "Cogenitor". In the episode, the Enterprise crews meets a new tri-gendered alien race, and finds out that, according to T'Pol, "tri-gendered reproduction is not uncommon" in the Star Trek galaxy. The "neutral" gender of which the cogenitor is a part produces an enzyme necessary for males and females to reproduce. Despite the crucial function the cogenitor performs, it lives in conditions Tucker believes are akin to slavery. His struggles to get the cogenitor to understand that it can have a more independent life meet with some success, but ultimately the imposition of human, dual-gendered attitudes on the situation merely serve to throw the cogenitor into mental chaos. It ends up committing suicide at the end of the episode.
Androgynous species have been seen in Star Trek as well, as evidenced by "The Outcast". The people featured in the episode are a single-sex species who find distinctions of gender inappropriate. There are also a number of instances in which a species' androgyny has a less central role to the plot, as with the Axanar of the Star Trek: Enterprise episode, "Fight or Flight".
Another Enterprise episode, "Unexpected", introduced the Xyrillian. They were a species who separated the functions of reproduction differently from most dual-gendered species. Males had no role in conception but were responsible for pregnancy and childbirth. The fertilized egg was transferred to their bodies in a way that did not appear sexual to humans. Commander Tucker thus became involved in the first inter-species pregnancy in the Star Trek narrative chronology. He was, according to T'Pol, also the first human male to become pregnant.
Trill sexuality is complicated. Although Trill hosts clearly are a part of a dual-gendered species, the gender of the symbionts, and indeed their method of reproduction, has never been made explicit. Joined Trill that have bonded with male and female hosts have some commonality with transgendered humans, but are in fact the precise opposite of the species in "The Outcast". They are pansexual, with clear memories of what it is like to have been the opposite gender, or to have had a different sexual orientation. Sanctions are shown to be in place against "reassociation" of a symbiont with lovers of a previous host. Symbionts in a new host are encouraged to cut off any contact with an old familiar life, be it lovers, families or friends.Trill society emphasizes variety of lovers, and not gender, as the matter of highest sexual relevancy.
In the TOS episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" Dr. McCoy describes the tribbles as "bisexual". Further dialogue establishes that tribbles are hermaphroditic, possessing male and female sexual characteristics, and are born pregnant.
- Pon farr
- Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction
- LGBT themes in speculative fiction
- Single-gender worlds
- List of LGBT-themed speculative fiction
- List of television shows with LGBT characters
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