North Texas Daily

George Takei charts course for UNT campus

George Takei charts course for UNT campus

George Takei charts course for UNT campus
October 15
23:55 2014

Dalton LaFerney / Senior Staff Writer

He has crisscrossed the galaxy at the helm of the starship Enterprise for a generation of Trekkies faithful to the exploration, he is a pioneer for social media celebrities, gay rights and Asian actors, and now, he is coming to UNT.

Oooh myyy.

George Takei will speak at 8 p.m. Oct. 27 in the Coliseum as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series. Student admission is free, guest admission is $5; faculty, staff and alumni will pay $10; and general admission is $15.

Takei is widely known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series, but has also developed a massive social media following and is a major proponent for gay rights.

Michelle Bradley, coordinator of special projects for Student Affairs, said UNT is excited for Takei to speak.

“The comments were overwhelmingly positive when UNT announced the lecture on Facebook and Twitter,” she said. “His popularity and influence spans several generations, and we knew the entire UNT community would benefit from hearing him speak.”

According to each of his social media web pages, Takei has 1.4 million Twitter followers, 7.8 million Facebook likes and 345,246 Pinterest followers. “Takei’s Take,” a Youtube series, has 104,934 subscribers and features topics such as popular culture, trends, science and technology.

“He’s gone from being an old Star Trek celebrity to being a social media celebrity,” journalism professor and social media expert Samra Bufkins said. “He knows his audience really well. He has been a big influence because he’s himself. He’s true to who he is, and he’s just sharing it with everybody.”

In a new autobiographical documentary To Be Takei, he adds insight into his life and opens up about his time in a U.S. internment camp during World War II. He shares memories of looking out from behind the barbed wire fences of the camp.

“It was a painful moment there,” Takei said in the documentary. “I don’t believe in negativity. You determine your destiny.”

Takei will join the many who have spoken for the lecture series, including George W. Bush, Rainn Wilson, Robert Gates and Condoleezza Rice.

“We asked him to speak about the challenges and accomplishments he’s had over his lifespan and how they’ve shaped who he is today,” Bradley said. “Many people don’t know his entire story, so we hope everyone will leave having learned something new.”

Some students and faculty are invited to meet Takei.

“It’s not just gay rights for him. It’s equality in general,” Bruce Hall resident assistant Chris Scanlan, said. “I think it’d be awesome to pick his brains a little. Plus, he’s really funny.”

Takei announced he was gay in October 2005 in response to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto of same-sex marriage legislation. When same-sex marriage was legalized three years later, Takei married Brad Altman, with whom he’d been in a relationship for 21 years. They were the first couple to apply for a marriage license in West Hollywood.

The reaction to his coming out was largely supportive in both the LGBT and Star Trek communities. There is wide respect for Takei.

“George Takei is an image [for the LGBT community],” TRIAD President AJ Aguinaga said. “He is a household name and spokesperson for the human rights campaign. He is doing his part.”

Featured Image: George Takei delivers a speech at Comic Con in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore – Wikimedia Commons

About Author

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton is the editor of the Daily.

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