Warning: this article contains mild spoilers.
The most alien creature in the Star Trek universe? An openly gay person, none of whom have been seen in more than forty years of official Star Trek movies and TV spin-offs.
But the USS Enterprise will be at least a little gayer this Saturday when Peter Kirk, the openly gay nephew of Captain James T. Kirk, and his boyfriend set foot on board the starship.
No, this isn’t a storyline in any upcoming series sanctioned by CBS, which currently own the rights to the Star Trek TV franchise, nor is it part of J.J. Abrams “reboot” of Paramount’s Star Trek movie franchise coming in May. As far as we know, all the “official” Star Trek projects on the horizon remain steadfastly gay-free.
This storyline is part of an independent online project called Star Trek: Phase II, which imagines a “fourth” season of the original series using new actors in the classic roles of Kirk and company. CBS and Paramount allow such “fan” projects, providing they’re not moneymaking operations.
Jonathan Zungre as Lt. Chekov, James Cawley as Captain Kirk, Ben Tolpin as Mr. Spock, Jay Story as Transporter Chief Kyle
The three existing episodes of Phase II, one of which starred Star Trek actor George Takei, have already been downloaded more than thirty million times.
The new “gay” episode, “Blood and Fire”, will be released in two parts. The first part is available for free download this coming Saturday on the show’s website, and Part 2 will be released in February.
The episode, provided exclusively to AfterElton.com for preview, is professional in its execution — not surprising given that the project uses some of the original Star Trek sets and that many veterans from the actual movies and series have donated their talents to the project.
Indeed, “Blood and Fire” was co-written and directed by David Gerrold, the out gay writer of the classic “The Trouble with Tribbles” Star Trek episode and a writer and associate producer on the first Star Trek spin-off, Star Trek: The Next Generation. “Blood and Fire” was originally written for that series, with the strong support of series creator Gene Roddenberry, and it was intended as a metaphor for AIDS.
But at the time, television executives and the show’s producers balked at the inclusion of two minor gay characters. “We treated them like they were really good friends,” Gerrold says of that original script. “But someone does ask them: ‘How long have you been together?’ Well, a few people in the office went ballistic! A memo came down that said, ‘We don’t want to risk the franchise by having mommies calling the station because they saw gay people on Star Trek.’"
Peter Kirk (Bobby Rice) and Alex Freeman (Evan Fowler)
James Cawley, the executive producer of Phase II who also plays James T. Kirk in the project, knew about the rejected script. When he contacted Gerrold, the Star Trek veteran was enthusiastic to adapt his old script for the project, working with Phase II writer Carlos Pedraza to make it more relevant to today.