An LGBT activist and Star Trek fan from North Carolina traveled to New York to deliver a message to out actor Zachary Quinto: Thank you.
Melanie Skinner, a volunteer with the Human Rights Campaign, was one of the attendees at the premiere of For The Love of Spock, a documentary about actor Leonard Nimoy that screened Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival
Directed by his son, Adam Nimoy, the film—through the testimony of gay Star Trek castmate George Takei and LGBT fans—showed how the late actor fought for inclusion throughout his lifetime and gave hope to members of the LGBT community.
So it was appropriate that the very last question of the following Q&A, which included Nimoy and Quinto, went to an LGBT audience member.
“Zach, Thank you for everything you’ve done for diversity and equality," Skinner said. "Spock and the original cast were my friends growing up. I was the ultimate outsider—LGBT in North Carolina."
"I had to come to New York to even go to the bathroom,” Skinner joked to the laughter of the crowd.
“But one of the things Star Trek taught me was, beside the morality, it taught me what kind of person to be,” the activist continued. “Spock taught me what kind of person I wanted to be, the difference I wanted to make as a leader in the LGBT community in North Carolina. Zach, you’re carrying that on. And I want to thank you so much.”
In response, the crowd erupted into applause. When the audience member added, “You made me very happy by saying there’s going to be more films,” Quinto responded, “We’ll see. Go see this one first!”
The gay actor portrays Spock in the newest franchise of Star Trek, which is directed by J.J. Abrams. The third installment, Star Trek Beyond, premieres July 22. The original Star Trek television series, in which Nimoy originated the iconic role of the level-headed Vulcan, premiered in 1966. Since then, Spock has inspired generations of fans.
When asked by The Advocate after the screening if the lessons of Spock could teach anything to the governor of North Carolina, Skinner said the following:
“Infinite diversity, infinite combinations. There was a whole philosophy behind the logic with Spock and Vulcan. It’s what we need in the world. And that’s what I try to live by.”
Last month, Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, which struck down LGBT-inclusive municipal antidiscrimination ordinances and prohibits cities from adopting any new ones. The legislation also expressly requires transgender people to use public bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match their gender identity.
Hear the full speech from the activist in the last two minutes of the video below.