Star Trek icon George Takei is currently spending his days at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego as one of the stars of the musical Allegiance which he hopes to take to Broadway.
This is more than just an acting gig for the 75-year-old star who has become an outspoken LGBT activist in recent years.
The musical is about the internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II resonates deeply because it is something Takei and his family had to live through.
He was just five years old the morning his parents woke up he and his siblings, got them dressed, and waited to be removed from their Los Angeles home.
‘I remember being in the living room with my brother, looking out the front window and I saw two soldiers in uniforms come marching up the driveway,’ Takei says in the current issues of Rage Monthly. ‘They actually had bayonettes on their rifles, I remember that they glinted in the sun. They sort of stomped up on the porch, banged on the front door, my father answered and the soldiers ordered us out of our home.’
‘My parents had already packed and were waiting in the living room and my brother and I picked up what we could and stepped out,’ he added. ‘I remember turning back and watching my mother come out, she was the last one to leave and she had my baby sister on one arm and a huge duffle bag on the other with tears streaming down her cheeks. To a five-year-old child, being ordered out of your home in this way was frightening enough, but seeing my mother with tears streaming down her cheeks was beyond terrifying.’
Takei went on to great success as Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series and feature films as well becoming the voice of Howard Stern’s radio show and having a recurring role on the NBC series Heroes.
But he never forgot what happened to his family and so many other Japanese Americans. He has been speaking on the subject for many years at universities, corporations and government agencies.
‘What I do is speak about my family’s unconstitutional incarceration, equating it to the inequality for the LGBT community,’ he says. ‘I use the barbed wire fence as a metaphor for the legalistic barrier that imprisons gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered people.’
He adds: ‘I mean, when you think about it, Japanese Americans lost everything. My father used to say, ‘They took my business, they took our home and they took our freedom, the one thing I refuse to give them is my dignity.’