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George Takei Celebrates Selfies, Space Travel and Cat Videos

The 'Star Trek' actor uses his resurgent popularity at age 77 to advocate for important causes

George Takei, actor, portrait, What I Know Now

Michael Lewis

George Takei shares humor as well as posts about social issues via social media.

A virtual community

Technology for me is there to be humanized. Most people think the "me" in media is the operative thing. It's not just ego gratification. It's "social" media, after all — our town square. People gather and gossip. Some people come up with ideas and orate. We like to share.

Hello, kitty!

My Facebook and Twitter following started with sci-fi geeks and nerds from Star Trek, and grew and grew. Through trial and error, I have found that what gets the most shares is humor. That's the honey that allows me to slip in more personal posts about the gay-liberation movement, the plight of Japanese Americans during years of internment, and campaign-finance reform. But what get the most likes, of course, are cat videos.

Strength of character

Like so many Japanese American families, my family was incarcerated during World War II simply because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor. I felt worst for my father. How humiliating to take four years of a man's life and leave him penniless. Our first home after the camps was on skid row. But my father had what we call in Japanese gaman, an ability to endure with dignity. He died in 1979, but he will always be my hero.

Freedom of truth

I came out at age 68 in response to then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's vetoing California's marriage-equality bill, but I've known since age 9 that I'm gay. I so wanted to be normal. I double-dated with my buddies but was more interested in my buddies than in my dates. If I could go back to my 16-year-old self, I'd say, "You won't always feel so alone." I feel marvelously free now.

Opposites attract

My husband, Brad, and I have been together more than 25 years. What keeps us going is our diversity. We don't look anything alike. He's very organized, and I'm not. I am easygoing, but Brad is tightly wound. I'm a newsaholic and a computer junkie. He ignores all that. Whatevs, as the kids say. It works.

Smile for the camera

I go to conventions to thank fans for their support. I don't count the number of selfies I take. Before selfies, there were autographs, which can be forged. The secret to a good selfie is to make sure your teeth are clean.

Final frontier

Even before Star Trek, I thought about future worlds. I loved watching Space Patrol in the early 1950s. That elusive "something" beyond the horizon still fascinates me. Richard Branson and Elon Musk are talking about tourism in outer space. Hey! Don't forget to take me! [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry had his ashes carried into space, but I actually want to be alive when I go up there!

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