How George Takei Inspired a Straight Guy to Finally Stand Up for Gay Rights

george-takeiMost people who follow my writing know that I’m an avid supporter of gay rights and of the LGBT community.  But I’ll be honest – that wasn’t always the case.  It wasn’t that I was against equal rights for homosexuals, or thought negatively of homosexuals, I just wasn’t someone who you’d find often speaking out against the injustices that millions of them faced every single day.

It wasn’t that I opposed them, I just never really stood up for them.

When I was younger, people who inspired me were often sports figures.  Being that I played a lot of sports as a kid, that’s usually how it goes.  If you were a good athlete, you were probably someone I looked up to – even if I probably shouldn’t have.

But as I got older, the attitudes of people began to inspire me.  People in particular who faced adversity were those that often moved me the most.  People whose attitudes broken down walls. Those whose outlook on life overcame any amount of hate and ignorance that people flung at them.  The people who had every reason to be hateful, negative and angry but instead chose to be hopeful, positive and joyful.

And while George Takei came out as a homosexual in 2005, for me it wasn’t until around 2008 or 2009 that I began taking a bigger stand for gay rights.  But even then I allowed for far too much compromise when it came to equal rights for homosexuals.  I’d say things like, “Well, what’s wrong with a civil union?  Why does it have to be called marriage?”

Looking back, I see how ignorant I was.

Then, like over 6 million of you (though it was closer to 2-3 million when I first started following his page) I found George Takei on Facebook.

I’ll admit – until then, outside of enjoying Star Trek, I hadn’t really paid much attention to Takei.

But when you’re on Facebook as much as I am, you can’t help but run across someone sharing something that Takei had posted.  So it peaked my curiosity, and I began following him on Facebook.

I will say, without a doubt, he’s probably one of the most entertaining people to follow.

Here’s a man in his 70’s (not exactly the typical age of the social media superstar), who grew up as a Japanese American during a time when it wasn’t always easy to be a Japanese American, who’s also an openly homosexual man.

So, how exactly did a gay, Japanese American male in his 70’s become a social media sensation?  How did he become a hero for gay rights and people in general?

To me it’s simple – his attitude.  Hell, that’s exactly what drew me to him.

At any time you can go to his Facebook page and find something to laugh at.  And if it’s not something to laugh at, it’s usually something motivational.  Though he does often share Upworthy links (which I can’t stand), I can overlook that for all the great stuff that he does post.

Becoming a bigger fan of his, because of his attitude, helped to motivate me to do what I could to help people like him get the equal rights they deserve.  I guess it was the feeling that, while gays undoubtedly deserve equal rights, I just really wanted to be a louder voice in the fight to give him (and people like him) the rights they deserve.

I’ve never met or even talked to George Takei (and doubtfully ever will), so I have no idea what he’s like in private.  All I have to go by is what I’ve seen in his interviews, his speeches, his Twitter and Facebook.  And from the little I do know, he’s one of the more inspiring public figures that we have right now.

On days where I get incredibly frustrated with the ignorance so many have toward the LGBT community, I’ll visit his page to uplift my spirits a bit.  If someone who’s actually gay can maintain a positive attitude, in a fight they’ve been fighting for over 70 years, who am I to get frustrated by some of the most ignorant among us?

I’m a straight, white Christian male – I have all the rights this country offers.  For all intents and purposes I have it pretty easy compared to some.  Whether or not gays gain equal rights won’t impact my life whatsoever, aside from uplifting my spirits to know that my friends and neighbors can enjoy the same rights afforded to people like me.  But that’s not why I fight for gay rights.  I do so because it’s the right thing to do, it’s what I believe in.  This country is based off freedom and liberty for all – not just certain people.

I do it not because it benefits me, but because everybody deserves equal rights.  Hell, it’s not even accurate to call them “rights” – these are demands.  A “right” can be taken away.  An adult having the ability to marry another adult shouldn’t be a “right.”  It should be a basic freedom afforded to every single person in this country regardless of their sexual orientation.

And we’re all given that freedom via a little thing called our First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  It just seems tens of millions of Americans who oppose gay rights fail to understand the basic fundamentals of our First Amendment rights.

But I am unapologetic to anyone for my belief that homosexual Americans should have the same rights that I have.  And unless someone can give me a reason why they shouldn’t, one that doesn’t come from the Bible or religious beliefs, then they should just keep their mouths shut.

As for me, I’m going to keep fighting those who oppose equal rights for homosexuals.  I’ll keep looking to people like George Takei for motivation and inspiration.  Not because I view George Takei as a “gay rights hero” – but because I view him as a hero for humanity, equality, acceptance, hope, love, humor, optimism and a passion for life.

And I’ll keep fighting until the day when he, and all other homosexual Americans, are finally given the exact same rights that I have.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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