George Takei has become an icon’s icon across a spectrum of communities and causes. In addition to his work on behalf of immigrants and refugees, the Star Trek actor and Japanese-American former World War II internee has a social media presence rivaled only by those of presidents. If you can engender the interest and engagement of Takei to your cause, count yourself fortunate.
Fortunately for America, Takei has long been a supporter of commonsense gun laws, and a friend of the gun-control movement. Read more about his active involvement in the movement and his thoughts on the Disarm Hate documentary.
The Advocate: How did you first become aware of the Disarm Hate movement?
George Takei: I always felt that there was a strong intersection between LGBTQ rights and gun violence prevention. Bigots have always hated LGBTQ people with frightening ferocity. When the tragedy of the Pulse nightclub massacre occurred, I knew that we must act. I knew that we as a community would forever be changed by it. That’s why I helped found the group “One Pulse for America,” which has over 90,000 members online.
We take on the gun lobbyists and help balance the scales of messaging and activism. Many of our members identify as LGBTQ, so I was thrilled to see Disarm Hate take up the mantle of direct action with their rally in Washington, after the founders contacted our organization. LGBTQs have been organizing politically for decades to secure our freedoms and our equality, and we have been able to leverage that experience working with other organizations within the gun violence prevention community. It has been heartening to see.
How can Hollywood, and specifically films like Disarm Hate, help make the world safer from gun violence?
There has long been what I call a “passion” gap when it comes to guns in this country. For far too long, the loudest voices — the ones who gained the ears and fund the campaigns of our represented leaders — belonged to the gun lobby. But the string of horrific mass murders in our public spaces, including schools, nightclubs, concerts and churches, galvanized people across America.
Particularly stirring was the impassioned eloquence and initiative-taking of the young students of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. It takes each of our communities, of young people, of religious folks, of LGBTQs, standing up and saying “we demand a change” in order for real progress to happen. That’s why films like Disarm Hate are so important. It helps show that if we can do it in our community, others can take up the call, too.
How, if at all, have you been personally impacted by the waves of mass shootings in America during the past two-and-a-half decades?
I’ve come in recent years to see the gun violence in America as a kind of cancer, a disease that leads us to simply accept the deaths of our fellow Americans in staggering numbers, year after year, doing nothing about it, as if this is somehow politically normal. It is not normal. But it has been going on so long that we have allowed resignation to creep into our national psyche. And so when we see numbers like 180,000 Americans already dead from a pandemic, or the racially motivated murders of our Black citizens by our own police, we are already numbed to it.
The violence that rots the core of our society from the deaths that guns bring daily to us, has begotten greater violence, greater acceptance of even more tragedy. To end this cycle, I believe the gun violence itself must also end. If we are to value each other once again, as one people, we must cure this nation of the cancer of gun violence, and never again let it grow within our body politic.