"When he ran, he said he was from Hollywood and he worked with actors who were gays and lesbians—he 'had friends who were gays and lesbians'—you know, the whole cliché bit," Takei explains. "And honestly, as a friend, I thought he would sign it. But he was a Republican and his base was the right wing. He vetoed the bill, and we were shattered—disappointed is too mild a word."
When Schwarzenegger refused to sign the bill, people immediately began to protest in the streets against him. Takei and his partner (now husband), Brad, watched the protests unfold on television. "We were raging, too," he says. "But we were comfortable at home."
Takei and his partner talked it over and decided the time had come for Takei to not only speak out, but speak out "as a gay man."
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NEW NUPTIALS George Takei marries his partner Brad Altman in 2008.
"We came so close, just one signature and this governor vetoed it. If I was going to speak out, then my voice had to be authentic," he recalls. So while he had been out to close friends and family for years, Takei was finally out publicly—and has been a proud, steady voice for marriage equality ever since.
Takei doesn't dwell on whether or not he should have come out sooner. While he loves his life now, he also loved his life then. But keeping quiet and living a secret life does come with regrets.
"I love children and I never had children," Takei says. "My surrogate children have been my nieces and nephews. My nephew who lives closest to us has children of his own, and it's provided us with surrogate grandchildren, and we love them deeply.
"But at the airport or traveling, I see the little kiddies and I do wish we could have had those experiences as parents. For example, I never got to get up with them in the middle of the night, and soon my nephew will have the experience of his daughter, who is 14, dating. I do see those experiences romantically, and I've lived vicariously through my nephew, and I do envy him those precious times."
Despite any regrets, it's obvious to see that George Takei is someone who loves his life as an activist and as an entertainer. He has managed to reach millions of people from all walks of life through his humorous and topical social media posts. He has also become an extremely effective master of the medium.
On a recent morning, for example, Takei shared a photo of a delivery truck with the words: "Driver carries less than $50 cash and is fully naked." Above the photo was Takei's own commentary: "That's some discouragement."
Within an hour, the Facebook post received more than 43,500 likes and more than 8,400 shares. On Twitter, it received close to 300 retweets in just 60 minutes. The company who owns the truck would even later post a comment on the post about openings they have for truck drivers.
The former Mr. Sulu on Star Trek says he's as surprised by anyone that his online success has caught on like it has, but he thinks he knows why it continues to grow.
"I really do think the connective glue is humor," says Takei, who appeals to a wide cross-section of fans, even though he may differ from some of them philosophically and politically. "Humor is what binds us all together, regardless of what our politics or phobias are.
"We as human beings are all connected by the ludicrousness of life."