Why We Need Queer Women on “Star Trek”

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After almost a decade off the air, the world of Star Trek returns with a brand new series in 2017. CBS recently announced this revival of the beloved franchise, timing it nicely with the 50th anniversary of the original show. This new Star Trek will air on CBS Access, CBS’s new streaming subscription channel.

Despite the series’ groundbreaking origins, many are surprised to find out that Star Trek has never featured any (explicitly) LGBT characters. Here’s my top four reasons why they should get a queer lady on that show. Set phasers to queer!

1. Because creator Gene Roddenberry always wanted to.

In the months before his death, Roddenberry told co-workers (and, um, the press) that he intended to have an LGBT crew member on Star Trek: The Next Generation. But once he passed, the idea was pushed aside and never made a priority. Series (and films) writer Roland D. Moore admitted they screwed the pooch in a 2008 interview with AfterElton:

“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.”

And it’s not just Moore who thinks they fucked up. Before Kate Mulgrew became known as everyone’s favorite Russian mobster Red on Orange is the New Black, she played female Captain Kathryn Janeway. In 2002 she told 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.”

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2. Because Star Trek invented slash fanfiction, giving every queer girl in my generation her root.

Sure, you’ve fallen for Faberry, pined for Paily, and kvelled for Clexa, but did you know that slash fiction originated with the O.G. paring of Captain James T. Kirk and Mr. Spock? Female fans of the original series fell in love with the Kirk/Spock pairing in the 1970’s, and filled countless fanzines and journals with their own interpretations of the pair’s relationship.

Even the popular fanfiction trope character “Mary Sue” originated in a Star Trek story in 1973, when Paula Smith wrote her into a satirical story published in her fanzine Menagerie #2.

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3. Because Star Trek is no stranger to breaking barriers.

In Season 3 of the original series, Star Trek broke ground when they featured one of the first interracial kisses on national television between Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura. NBC made the show shoot two different versions (one with the kiss and one without) for the episode titled “Plato’s Stepchildren,” but Roddenberry and the cast were adamant that the kiss stay onscreen. Shatner and Nichols even made goofy faces and crossed their eyes so that the non-kiss takes were unusable. The kiss aired and fan response was (mostly) positive.

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4. Because Seven of Nine.

I mean, come on.

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So what are you waiting for CBS? We want queer women on Star Trek!

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