George Takei turns 80 on 20 April but going by his fresh connect with social media, active involvement in social rights issues and lively commentary on politics, it is hard to believe the Star Trek actor is an octogenarian.
Most popularly known for his role as USS Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the popular TV show Star Trek and the follow-up films, Takei is equally famous for his involvement in the fight for LGBT rights and issues faced by Japanese-Americans.
Born to Japanese parents in 1937, at the age of five, Takei and his family were forced to live in internment camps following Japan's deadly attack on Pearl Harbour. The experience had a major impact on his life and led him to work towards educating Americans about interment and working to see that such human rights travesties do not reoccur in the US.
It is this experience that led him to harshly criticise President Donald Trump's decision to monitor American-Muslims and immigrants from Islamic countries.
He is also one of the founders of Los Angeles' Japanese American National Museum.
Another issue close to Takei's heart is the fight for equal rights for the LGBT community. In October 2005, the Blazing Samurai voice actor announced that he was gay in an issue of Frontiers, a Southern California-based LGBT magazine. His actions were fuelled by then California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto of same-sex marriage legislation.
Most Star Trek fans were already aware of Takei's sexuality but his decision to make a public statement had a recognisable and positive impact. He also opened up about his long-term relationship with Brad Altman, who he went on to marry on 14 September, 2008.
On the occasion of his milestone birthday, IBTimes UK has rounded up some of the actor's best quotes on LGBT issues, human rights and social opinions.
- And it seems to me important for a country, for a nation to certainly know about its glorious achievements but also to know where its ideals failed, in order to keep that from happening again.
- I love people. When you're engaged with society and trying to make it a better society, you're an optimist.
- The central pillar of our justice system is due process. You have got to be charged with a crime. Then you can challenge those charges in a court of law with a trial.
- Arguments that we will never stop all shootings by restricting access to such weapons fails to account for our strong and common desire at least to stop many of them — or any of them.
- In Indiana, gays and lesbians can be fired from their jobs with impunity, and in Arkansas, it's the same thing. We need those protective laws to truly have an equal society.
- It's important for all Americans to know how vulnerable our Constitution is.
- My father told me about American democracy. And he said you have to be actively engaged in the political process to make our democracy work. So I've been doing that my entire life. Civil rights movement. The peace movement during the Vietnam conflict. The movement to get an apology and redress for Japanese-Americans.
- I think Donald Trump's interpretation of marriage is something that he himself doesn't really believe in. 'Traditional marriage' is where two people love each other, commit to each other, care for each other over the years. It is a meaningful ceremony, and his interpretation of that is not recognising what real marriage is.
- To characterise all Muslims as terrorists is fear-mongering of the worst kind.
- We need to get some rationality on the Second Amendment. This is crazy what we allow ourselves.
- Star Trek is about acceptance, and the strength of the Starship Enterprise is that it embraces diversity in all its forms.
- In the United States, we have a large, broad middle that are decent, fair-minded people who are too busy to really think about issues other than their next pay cheque. Those are the people that we want to get to in order to change the social climate. And Howard Stern has that audience. So I said, 'Let's boldly go where I've never been before.'
You may be interested in:
- Stephen King, Cher, Trevor Noah and other celebrities react to Fox ousting Bill O'Reilly
- Demi Lovato sparks boob job rumours as pop star shares revealing photos in swimsuit
- Will Smith being considered for role of Genie in Guy Ritchie-directed live-action film Aladdin
- Happy birthday George Takei: Top 10 quotes by the Star Trek actor on inclusion, LGBT rights and activism