Spock is Gay

Breaking news: There's a gay man in Hollywood.

Breaking news: There’s a gay man in Hollywood.

Reuters (“Spock actor Zachary Quinto comes out as a gay man“):

Actor Zachary Quinto, known for portraying Spock in the 2009 blockbuster film ”Star Trek,” has publicly come out as a gay man.

In an interview with New York Magazine published on Sunday, Quinto recalled a stage play he performed in last year, “Angels in America,” which was set against the backdrop of the AIDS epidemic and the toll it took on him personally.

“(A)s a gay man, it made me feel like there’s still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed,” he told the magazine.

Quinto, who rose to fame playing the evil killer Sylar on the television series “Heroes,” also mused to the magazine about gay marriage and young gay teens who have committed suicide after being bullied.

“And again, as a gay man, I look at that and say there’s a hopelessness that surrounds, but as a human being I look at it and say ‘Why? Where’s this disparity coming from…?” he said.

As I straight man, I don’t really give a crap. It would have been a big deal if George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu on the original “Star Trek,” had come out of the closet when the show was on the air in the late 1960s–or even when the movie franchise kicked off in 1979. At this point, though, this is only slightly bigger news than if Quinto had announced that he likes cheese.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, Quick Takes
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. David M says:

    I was a little off after reading the headline as I immediately thought of Leonard Nimoy. Now if you had gone with “Sylar is gay”, that I would have gotten. I don’t care one way or the other that he’s gay, but seeing him play Spock after watching Heroes was a little weird.

  2. Jay Tea says:

    I had the same reaction when his casting was announced, then I reconsidered… and realized he would be a great Spock. And he was. Nimoy gave him his blessing.

    This is NOT news — only the official part. But Quinto is a GREAT actor.

    Good lord, I just had a horrible thought. All that Spock/Sulu slash fiction that will be written now…

    Oh, MY

    J.

  3. anjin-san says:

    And this is worth mentioning… why exactly?

  4. anjin-san says:

    At this point, though, this is only slightly bigger news than if Quinto had announced that he likes cheese.

    Well perhaps this is actually worth discussing. Do you recall James, how at a recent Presidential debate held by YOUR party, a promise to reinstate “don’t ask, don’t tell” drew wild applause?

    Think about it. If a gay or lesbian American says “I am willing to put my life on the line to defend America”, the response of Republicans is “Well, ok. But you have to live a lie”. Until very, very recently it was the policy of our government.

    The land of the free indeed.

  5. legion says:

    For me: meh. My teenage daughter, however, is heartbroken.

  6. Boyd says:

    It’s not a big deal to me, either, but then again, I didn’t write a blog post on it. Since you did, James, I suspect you think it’s a bit more than slightly more significant (how could I make that phrase less awkward?) than a declaration of turophilia.

    Further, you know that by many measures, you’re nowhere near what someone would call “a typical American,” James. This admission is going to be much more significant to a rather large swath of America than it is to you, which is what I believe you’re tacitly acknowledging by bothering to post this.

    Bah! Writing anything while enjoying a dram or two of Scotch whisky is an exercise in futility. I should know this by now.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @anjin-san and @Boyd: This was on the front page of YahooNews and my reaction was . . . why?

    America is still evolving on this issue but doing so rapidly. Lots of people still think homosexuality is icky, sinful, or whathaveyou. But they’re willing to accept it in the particular in most cases at this point. The number of highly successful “out” actors, singers, and other entertainers who still draw mainstream audiences attests to that.

    “Gays in the military” is a special issue, both because of the macho image of the military but because of how polarizing it was when Bill Clinton pushed DADT through twenty years ago. People don’t like to let go of a fight, even when it’s clearly over.

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    Actor Zachary Quinto, known for portraying Spock in the 2009 blockbuster film ”Star Trek,” has publicly come out as a gay man.

    All joking aside, did people not already know this?

  9. sam says:

    It certainly makes the Vulcan farewell sign suspect.

  10. Vast Variety says:

    While in this day in age, someone being gay shouldn’t really be news, it’s almost a necessity that prominent gay men and women live open lives and celebrate who they are. It’s the only way to counteract the continual treadmill of hate pumped out by people like the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, and almost every Republican Presidential candidate.

  11. anjin-san says:

    People Republicans don’t like to let go of a fight their bigotry

    FTFY

  12. mattb says:

    @sam:
    +1

    And it isn’t going to help with the entire repopulate the Vulcan race (unless Spock chooses to close his eyes and think of the “Elders”)?

    @Jay Tea:
    I think this will take Kirk and Spock slash to a new level.
    [btw, really appreciating learning about how strong the sci-fi geek is with you]

  13. Tlaloc says:

    This was about as surprising as when Nathan Lane came out of the closet.

    also, great actor? You’re joking right? His work on Heroes was fine but his portrayal of spock was terrible (although part of that was a terrible script and direction).

  14. Jay Tea says:

    @Tlaloc: His work on Heroes was fine but his portrayal of spock was terrible (although part of that was a terrible script and direction).

    Considering the baggage Abrams had to deal with going in (find a way to jettison 40+ years of continuity and, conservatively, 500+ hours of “canon” without totally alienating the fan base so he can rope in whole new legions of fans), I thought it was a pretty good movie. And Quinto went in with his own assload of baggage — stepping into the role of a literal icon. (Spock was half-human, to make him accessible to us; Deanna Troi was also half-human, Worf was raised by humans, and Data was a Spock-type who wanted to be human. It took DS9 to introduce full aliens into the mix and break the Spock mold.)

    Quinto’s evolving relationship to Pine’s Kirk was a delight to watch, from the Kobayashi Mari incident to shooting Kirk off the ship to willingly serving under him — all logical, but more. His relationship with Uhura was also surprising, but well handled. And Quinto’s final scene with Nimoy was a perfect “passing of the torch” moment.

    On Heroes, Quinto started off as a two-dimensional villain, but his charisma made him the breakout character — and they kinda overdid that. But still, he handled it brilliantly.

    I’d heard a year or two ago that Quinto was gay, but very protective of his privacy — kind of like T. R. Knight. I find it a very refreshing change that gay actors are staying “in the closet” not out of fear, but simply because they want their privacy and don’t want the burden of “being a role model for gay teens” or feel the need to wear their sexuality on their sleeve. I like that the issue of “this could hurt my career” is pretty much dead.

    J.

  15. Jay Tea says:

    @mattb: I have a stack of Star Trek books about 18″ tall.

    And that’s just my non-fiction, reference works. Blueprint books, tech manuals, companions, encylopedias (encylopediae?) blooper guides, “behind the scenes” books, etc.

    It doesn’t come up much, but I’m not ashamed of it.

    J.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    Oh to like that socialist Roddenberry’s vision AND to be a conservative…

  17. Tlaloc says:

    Quinto’s evolving relationship to Pine’s Kirk was a delight to watch, from the Kobayashi Mari incident to shooting Kirk off the ship to willingly serving under him

    I felt exactly the opposite. In the first place their handling of the Kobayashi Maru was horrifying. Instead of a sly maneuver by someone who refuses to believe in no win situations it came across as simply kirk being an obvious ass who had to show off.

    Quinto’s spock meanwhile was constantly on the edge of an emotional breakdown, a terrible disservice to the character. And I never felt any chemistry between the characters, although i admit I may have simply been so repulsed by everything else in the movie to appreciate some subtle nuances.

    The movie was so bad i even hated Simon Pegg who I’d otherwise see in anything.

    Considering the baggage Abrams had to deal with going in (find a way to jettison 40+ years of continuity and, conservatively, 500+ hours of “canon” without totally alienating the fan base so he can rope in whole new legions of fans), I thought it was a pretty good movie.

    But here’s the thing- he didn’t have to do any of that, he chose to, and consequently he doesn’t deserve any slack for it. It was a terrible idea and led to a vapid terrible movie. It had all the plot and substance of transformers 2.

  18. James Joyner says:

    @Tlaloc: Yeah, I think he had to be true to the characters will also not boxing himself in with the continuity. The “alternate timeline” bit is a bit trite at this point in time but is easily bought by sci fi/comic book geeks.

    I actually thought Abrams did a really good job of introducing the characters and making them plausibly younger versions of the characters we’d see as adults in TOS. The main problem I had in that regard is 1) the absurdity of some kid halfway through the Academy being given command of a starship and then allowed to keep his captaincy, thus skipping ahead 20 years in his career and 2) having guys who would serve together at rank ranging from ensign to captain being in the Academy together. This just makes no sense from a military personnel management standpoint.

  19. Tlaloc says:

    The main problem I had in that regard is 1) the absurdity of some kid halfway through the Academy being given command of a starship and then allowed to keep his captaincy, thus skipping ahead 20 years in his career

    Not just that but the character in question has proven himself to be incapable and basically a borderline sociopath, and yet all these better trained officers have no problem at all just handing him the keys to an advanced warship and taking his orders.

    ORLY?

  20. mattb says:

    @Jay Tea:
    You already outed yourself as a browncoat on anther thread… now if Nathon Fillon was gay… that might be more of a showstopper.

    Totally agree that NuTrek did an admirable job considering all of the expectations (especially the decision to go with such young actors).

    I’m much more of a B5/Firefly person than a Trekie.(*) Voyager pretty much killed the TV show. And outside of a few of Peter David’s novels, I never got into the book.

    (*) — to come completely clean, I’ve always been more of a Brit sci-fi/fantasy. There’s a certain sort of wonderful bleakness when a nation that more or less simultaneously produces series that feature (a) a magical blue box filled with hot, though fundamentally non-sexual, companions; (b) a rag-tag bunch of rebels that challenges a galactic empire and loses; and (c) supermarionation.

  21. mattb says:

    @James Joyner & @Tlaloc:
    I didn’t particularly like the Kobiashi Maru thing either, and I think it was poorly handled.

    One could argue that the overall immaturity we saw was the result of a fatherless Kirk. One of the key questions Kirk asks “old canon” Spock is did the Kirk he know grow up with a father. To some degree, I have to wonder if having that influence would have curved many of JT’s excessive traits in the movie.

    To that degree one could then argue that the Star Trek II continuity and the reprogramming of the Kobiashi Maru as a denial of the unbeatable scenario was transformed into NuKirk protesting someone having the power to place him in that situation in the first place.

    Either that or it was crappy writing.

    But as far as the how did Kirk ever get control of the Enterprise, I’ve always been of the opinion that, when it came to the OS, either Starfleet was a really crappy military organization to begin with (I mean Kirk – Shatner – was pretty young and unstable to be a captain of a military ship even then) or the Enterprise mission was always intended to be the “short bus” of Starfleet.

    As I think some comic once put it, when you apply a hard eye to the original series, you end up with:
    Kirk – a White God with no regard for the prime directive, who constantly puts himself (and his crew and ship) in mortal danger, who causes revolutions on every planet he comes to, and an eye for any leggy alien that crosses his path?!
    Spock – not only is he always at war with his human side, but being a creature of pure logic, he’d be absolutely useless in dealing with an illogical world (plus he has a tendency to get his brain stole).
    Bones – A doctor neurotically obsessed with everything he isn’t. Plus he and the first officer are constantly at war.
    Scotty – A chief engineer who constantly thinks that the ship is falling apart and never has enough time to do anything.

    The list goes on.

    Looking at it that way, is it any surprise that Starfleet took all of its screw-ups and stuck them on a ship with a 5 year missions to “explore strange new worlds” (i.e. get as far away from the rest of the federation as possible)?

  22. James Joyner says:

    @mattb: William Shatner was 33 when TOS kicked off in 1966. That would make him awfully young to be a captain in our navy (usually 20 years in, so 42 or so) but not wildly implausible; we’ve had younger O-6s during wartime. But 33 is much more believable than 23.

    But, yeah, the show produced wonderful characters but a very odd military organization.

  23. Tlaloc says:

    William Shatner was 33 when TOS kicked off in 1966. That would make him awfully young to be a captain in our navy

    Kirk was also supposed to have been the youngest captain in Star Fleet at the time.

    But, yeah, the show produced wonderful characters but a very odd military organization.

    It wasn’t really a military in the modern sense. It certainly served a defense function but they were always explorers as well. perhaps the closest real world parallel would be licensed merchantman/privateer ships from the 1600s. It’s not a direct analogy but it’s the closest I can think of for a military force for a government that is also primarily tasked with finding new stuff.

  24. sam says:

    Ah, my fav Star Trek movie scene (says all you need to know, really, about James Tiberius Kirk — can’t recall which movie, btw):

    Klingon: You promised to kill me honorably if I gave you the information.

    Kirk: I lied. (jerks head to mean, “throw him in the brig.”)

  25. Boyd says:

    @Tlaloc:

    It wasn’t really a military in the modern sense.

    I disagree. With the necessary caveats for dramatic license plus being set in the future, TOS and TNG were very much like the US Navy, at least while the were aboard ship, and especially while warfighting.