If anyone out there knows me personally, you know that I have friends that encompass all of the letters represented in LGBT. I'm not shy about my support for the gay community and I am a huge champion for the underdog. The odd thing is Star Trek is supposed to represent the components of IDIC (infinite diversity infinite combinations), yet it still, to do this day, has not featured an openly gay character as a regular. Sure there have been characters that have had same-sex encounters - Kira and Ezri anyone? - but it's always been under the guise that they are not themselves when it happens.
It's been 17 years since the infamous gay kiss on Roseanne. It's been 13 years since life imitated art and Ellen DeGeneres' character came out on her sitcom and she came out in real life. Since then, countless other shows have had gay scenarios and gay lead characters. We even have a popular cable network devoted exclusively to LGBT-focused content. So, why in this day and age is Star Trek, a show that was always ahead of its time, so behind with the times? I never met Gene Roddenberry so it's unfair for me to speak on his behalf, but I'd like to think he pushed a lot of people's buttons to show the kind of world where any race, religion or orientation could be an equal part of a starship's crew.
George Takei's proud stance as a gay rights activist has hardly caused much of a stir in the Trek community-in fact, I'm willing to bet people respect him even more now. So, why are we so afraid to show gays on Star Trek? I don't think it's the audience that's afraid of it, rather it's the networks and the producers who have had control over Star Trek since Roddenberry's passing who shy away from it. This kind of assumption or underestimation of the audience's level of tolerance is what makes Star Trek lack the relevance it once thrived upon. Brannon Braga once said, "As we understood it, it was Roddenberry’s feeling that ‘how would you know if somebody was gay?’ It was so accepted in the future, that if you try and dramatize it you just call attention to it." Who's saying anything about dramatizing? All you would need to do is depict it. You don't need to call any unnecessary attention to it. Just like Roddenberry made Sulu and Uhura a regular part of the team, you could have a gay character without tokenism.
JJ Abrams recently said he was open to a gay character in an article posted on After Elton. However, he also took a non-committal approach saying, "I would say that it is, you know, something that I would love to do, but just the way I would be careful doing a story that would involve any of the characters and their personal lives...I don’t know who’s assuming characters aren’t gay or are gay?" I agree, but by not taking a stance it feels like they are skirting around the issue. There are aliens in Star Trek that have both genders, so why is it such a big deal to make them love the same sex?
This is why I want to formally suggest that Dr. Elizabeth Dehner be the first openly gay character in Star Trek. It would be a stronger stance by making the gay character human. While I personally would rather see a male/male relationship on Star Trek, I have to say Dehner would be a good choice for a lesbian character. Her cool, calm professionalism around the men on the ship could really be because she's not attracted to them in any way. Since we only saw her in only one TOS episode, we really don't know her back story and personal life like other recurring characters. After all, there's not a glimmer of sexual tension between Kirk and Dehner. In a series where Kirk gets to bed a bevvy of beauties each week, it seems strange he doesn't have his eyes set on her. Gary Mitchell attempts to flirt and gets shut down. Then, comes the infamous "walking freezer unit" comment. Yes, you can argue that there's a magnetism between them, but how much of that is a result of his exposure? You could argue that he was simply trying to manipulate her for his own gain and was succeeding. Whether they were really romantically involved is still kind of ambiguous. If Dehner was gay I'd still be happy to play her - hell, I'd be honored.
I go back to the original character description, "with a face that could be beautiful if she cared to make it so. She doesn't." Why doesn't she? Because she's entirely about the job. She doesn't care about Kirk. She's not distracted by sexual advances from the male crew members. She's already one of the first feminist characters on Star Trek, why not make her the first gay one?