Could there be a gay Star Trek captain in the future?

The five Star Trek captains: Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Sisko, and Archer.

The five Star Trek captains: Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Sisko, and Archer. publicity photo

After CBS’ announcement that a new Star Trek series is planned for 2017, a new petition from The Queer Frontier is asking the network to put an LGBT character in the captain’s chair.

“Star Trek has an incredible, indelible, history spanning 50 years on television and in cinema. It’s a history that includes five captains, six TV series spanning 726 episodes, 12 movies and more than 40 starring characters. Yet not once have we seen an openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) character in a starring role,” the petition reads.

While LGBT characters have gotten the nod and wink treatment from the venerated sci-fi show, queer fans have had to read inbetween the lines to see themselves – and their issues – in the storylines. The show broke new ground by showing the first inter-racial kiss on network television and have historically put female and black cast members in leading roles, but activists say the show’s lack of LGBT characters has put it at odds with its history of civil rights leadership.

“Some of Star Trek’s most ham-fisted moments include characters intended to represent members of the LGBT community, and people with AIDS, while refusing to be explicit about their identities,” organizers say. “Episodes that were seen as touching LGBT concerns, as well as HIV and AIDS, obfuscated the issues so far as to be convoluted and creating little real impact. Some instances where same-sex affection were shown on screen cast the characters as sadistic villains, while others put male characters into female bodies, a situation that doesn’t adequately represent the experience of LGBT people.

“But now there’s no excuse for the Star Trek franchise to continue ignoring the LGBT community, considering the moment in which we exist in the struggle for equality and the show’s history of otherwise progressive casting. Producer Bryan Fuller must take this opportunity to lead Star Trek into the future by casting an LGBT character in the captain’s seat.”

Producers haven’t announced any cast members or characters yet. Filming is set to begin later this year.

Sign the petition here. And watch a quick video about the queer subtext on Star Trek below.

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