George Takei to Lambda Legal and Supporters: “This Has Got to Galvanize Us”

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November 15, 2016
George Takei (right) and Lea Salonga in "Allegiance"

“Yes, it was shocking, and it’s still unbelievable,” says George Takei by phone to Lambda Legal, just three days after election night. “And we must recover. We’ve got to fight the good fight. This has got to galvanize us. We’ve got to protect what we’ve gained and continue to push the nation forward.”

Takei points to his life story, on which the Broadway musical Allegiance is loosely based, as inspiration and proof that there’s a way through dark days of uncertainty and hate. Takei’s family, along with 120,000 Japanese Americans, were forced to abandon their homes during World War II. Within the bleak confines of prison camps, against a backdrop of virulent xenophobia across the U.S., the families, children and lovers in Allegiance try to eke out normal lives. It’s not lost on them that Americans of Italian and German descent are spared this fate.

“When we were doing Allegiance on Broadway and Donald Trump made that sweeping statement about banning all Muslims, it demonstrated to me that he really didn’t know American history,” Takei says. “And particularly this dark chapter of our history when racism took over the country, combined with war hysteria, and put innocent people, American citizens, in prison camps. Allegiance is clearly a story about racism and how destructive it is.”

The characters in Allegiance struggle with overwhelming feelings of powerlessness, outrage and conflicted loyalties. Yet somehow they endure. Endurance is clearly something Takei knows about. After decades in the public eye, he came out at 68. Now, closing in on 80 with 10 million Facebook followers, he's a social media supernova. In April, he returns to the New York stage in Stephen Sondheim's Pacific Overtures.

“There’s optimism,” says Takei of the characters in Allegiance. “That’s what we’ve got to have.”

Allegiance screens in movie theaters nationwide, one night only, on December 13 (visit Fathom Events for info and tickets). To read the full interview with George Takei, check out the Spring 2017 issue of Lambda Legal’s Impact magazine, available in February. To get a copy, become a Lambda Legal member today.