Star Trek’s First Gay Couple That Wasn’t

Comments

1

"Plain, simple Garak -- a tailor!" was indeed a spy for his people, the Cardassians, who at the time lived under a fascistic, militarized government. He habitually deceived, and tried always to find other characters' secrets and weaknesses. There's no reason to believe he actually had a sexual interest in Dr. Bashir -- or that the interest was sincere if he actually had it. In-universe, he might've been simply "feeling out" (ha!) Dr. Bashir's opinions on Cardassians.

(ST:DS9 ultimately did a show on relationship taboos, but the characters were Trill, not Cardassian.)

There was some agitation at the time for openly non-heterosexual characters, but the Star Trek franchise usually handled such things metaphorically. As the core idea of Star Trek is respect for the rights of the individual, the main in-universe reason characters did not discuss sexuality was that their society never discriminated against anyone, so there wasn't really anything to discuss.

2

I love Garak and Bashir, but Kirk/Spock was Trek's first gay couple.

3

I'm never really sure what to think of this sort of revisionist history. The show's producers strictly avoided any clear depiction of any explicitly LGBT characters for decades, until Star Trek Discovery. Part of me is really annoyed. Explicitly LGBT characters could have been a powerful message in the era of DS9, and it pissed me off at the time that they chickened out. I thought the subtle implied-but-never-admitted relationship was a copout. Especially in light of the risks they were willing to take in the 1960s. I imagine the original ST lost a few advertisers when Kirk kissed Uhura, but that didn't stop them from doing it.

In a way, its a little like JK Rowling stating off screen that Dumbledore was gay, when it was never explicitly stated in either her books nor the movies (at least until the prequels). In a way, I guess it was nice that she thought if him as such in her imagination, but it did little good to hide it from the millions of readers and viewers.

This strikes me as being sort of a tepid ally. Better than an enemy. Better than no ally at all. I'm glad neither ST or Potter was openly homophobic. But it is pretty weak sauce to come out well after-the-fact and claim that this or that character was actually gay, when they were unwilling to clearly depict them that way in print or on screen.

4

Star Trek has always walked a fine line when it comes to controversial subjects, generally choosing allegory as a devise to explore or comment on them without taking overt stances, because - at least at the time of The Original Series - doing so was anathema to television network executives who avoided controversy like a medieval plague, lest they lose viewers, particularly in the conservative "Bible Belt" south east. Remember, this was a time when married couples were still depicted as sleeping in separate beds, women's navels were considered too titillating to be seen on-screen, and People Of Color - when they appeared at all and not portrayed by white people - were usually relegated to the background. While Star Trek was not the first major network series to feature a Black co-star, it was the first to feature an at least nominally integrated cast, with the inclusion of Nichelle Nichols and George Takei.

The Garak/Bashir relationship was simply another in a very long line of "hinted at but never confirmed" subjects that cropped up from time to time in the various series, and regardless of the fans own feelings on any given topic (e.g. the infamous "K/S relationship" to which @2 above refers, which is the veritable Ur-iteration of so-called slash "/" fan-fiction), the general canonical rule-of-thumb with this - and by extension other genre/world-building series and franchises - has always been: if it wasn't seen or directly referred to on-screen, it didn't exist.

So, while the actor portraying Garak may have incorporated the trait flirting with Bashir with all the erotic fervor of a Deltan carrying an armload of Horga'hns during a three week bender on Risa, we never saw anything even remotely resembling a romantic "hook up", as the kids today would say, and so any commentary on the subject is purely speculative.

5

Long time Trekkie here. Bashir and Garak might have been good friends but they were not gay. Until Discovery, the only gay episodes of Trek that I recall were on TNG when Ryker had a fling with an female-ish androgynous alien and the episode of DS9 where two Trill females, Dax and an old flame from when Dax was hosted by a male, had a close encounter.

6

It's also worth noting that Garak was originally intended to have a one-episode appearance, but the producers liked the actor's unctuous, ambiguous performance to the extent they made the character recurring, and eventually entire story lines were built around Garak. If they'd wanted him to have a romance with Dr. Bashir (or anyone else), the producers gave themselves years in which to do so, and they never did.

Garak caring for anyone else would have introduced a major peril for him: it was eventually revealed the Cardassian government was far worse than the Federation characters had known, and both Garak's bosses and their enemies were willing to use just about any method in their conflicts. Anyone who Garak truly cared about thus ran a very high risk of kidnap and/or death, and Garak was far to conscientious of a spy to allow anyone the chance to hold such a hostage over him.

7

I knew it!!!

8

With nary a citation in the entire post - or any means referenced from which the Stranger to have uncovered this directly - this reads like fan fiction too.

9

I remember an interview of George Takei. At one point, he asked Gene if Sulu could be gay. Gene's response was basically that he liked the idea, but that the network would cancel the series if he tried it. Takei accepted this answer.

It's virtually guaranteed that Gene was both sincere and correct. He had a good feel for where he could push the limits (a Black communications officer, an Asian pilot) and where he couldn't (a gay Asian pilot).

The world--well, at least significant swaths of the U.S.--has changed a lot over the decades. I bet that Gene would be happy if he were still with us.