The Daily Agenda for Saturday, April 20
April 20th, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
China Removes Homosexuality From List of Mental Disorders: 2001. After consulting with mental health organizations in the U.S. and elsewhere, the Chinese Psychiatric Association published the third edition of the Chinese Standards for Classification and Diagnosis of Mental Disorders, which formally removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. The move came as Chinese psychiatry was coming under international scrutiny for the growing use of mental institutions to detain dissidents and members of the banned Falun Gong sect. The delisting of homosexual was controversial: the Beijing Youth Daily gave prominent space to a senior psychiatrist who called gay people “abnormal.”
George Takei: 1937. It’s hard to tell, but the actor best known for his role as Mr. Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek franchise turns seventy-six today. Oh, my! Born in Los Angeles to two native-born Californians of Japanese descent, Takei nevertheless ended up spending his formative years at a Japanese in internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, and then in the Tule Lake camp in California. His first roles in the 1950s was doing voiceover work, dubbing Japanese monster movies. Later, he was able to score a gig with CBS’s award winning Playhouse 90, an episode of The Twilight Zone, and film roles in Hell to Eternity (1960), A Majority of One (1961), and Walk, Don’t Run (1966). When the Star Trek pilot came along in 1965, Takei was cast as helmsman for the USS Enterprise, but he was only able to take part on half of the first season due to a commitment he already had as a South Vietnamese officer in the John Wayne film, The Green Berets. When Takei returned for Star Trek’s second season, he found that he had to share a dressing room, script, and a ship’s helm panel, side-by-side, with Walter Koenig as the starship’s navigator, Ensign Pavel Chekhov.
Star Trek only lasted three seasons on NBC. It struggled to find an audience during its first season, and it was rumored that NBC would cancel it at the end of the second season. A letter-writing campaign saved the program for another year, only to see NBC place it at the dead-end 10:00 time slot on Friday night and slash its production budget. After 79 episodes, NBC canceled the series, in a move which TV Guide in 2011 ranked as the fourth “biggest TV blunders.” Thanks to syndication, Star Trek found a larger audience than it ever had on NBC. Takei has since reprised his role as Captain Sulu in the first six Star Trek movies. He was promoted to Captain Sulu, with his own starship, the USS Excelsior in a Star Trek: Voyager episode, a role he reprised for Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
In 2005, Takei came out as gay in an issue of Los Angeles-based Frontiers magazine. “It’s not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through,” he said. “It’s more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen.” That corridor included longtime active memberships in various LGBT organizations and a then-eighteen year partnership with Brad Altman. In 2008, Takei and Altman turned that partnership into an honest-to-god marriage just before Prop 8 was approved by California voters, and they were the first same-sex couple to appear in Game Show Network’s revived celebrity edition of The Newlywed Game. Takei is one of the more entertaining stars of Facebook and the Twitterverse (You can send your birthday greetings to @GeorgeTakei), and he also has Asteroid 7307 named in his honor. His Internet-themed memoir, Oh Myyy!: There Goes The Internet, just dropped this week at Amazon in paperback following a November 2012 release for Kindle.
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?