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Going Boldly

Last night, Charlotte told me she prefers Star Wars to Star Trek.

I would’ve rather she punched me directly in the face. In fact, I told her so. As a lifelong Trekkie, this revelation was far worse than finding out she likes McDonald’s McRib and powdered coffee creamer.

Growing up in rural East Texas, my home entertainment options were very limited. We lived a number of miles outside our small town, so we didn’t have access to cable TV. In the early ’90s, satellite dishes were still enormous, ugly fiberglass affairs 10 to 16 feet in diameter. My dad said he didn’t want a veritable spaceship parked next to the house, and our roof antenna only picked up three or four channels. I read a lot – in fact, I credit my relative isolation during my formative years with making me a writer – but, outside of that, the primary diversions available to me were playing outside (meh), swimming in our pond (no), helping my dad clear brush (absolutely not) or playing with the chickens (poultry make poor playmates).

One of the TV channels we got ran episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation every evening just before my bedtime, and I spent most nights sitting on the carpet in my room, watching Picard, Riker & co. swashbuckling throughout the universe. I grew so fond of the show that, one year, for Halloween, I prevailed upon my mom to make a Starfleet uniform (Lt. Commander Uhura‘s mini-dress from the original series in TNG maroon) for me, complete with an appliqued communicator badge.

Star Trek appealed to me largely because, looking back (I certainly didn’t think of it this way at the time), the show used the characters’ space adventures to comment on cultural and societal issues like racism, sexism, nationalism and global aggression, among others. I knew these viewpoints were problematic, but very few adults in my sphere seemed to share my perspectives. Many, perhaps most, of the people I knew were white-supremacist, “Christian” nationalists, and Star Trek confirmed for me that those stances were by no means universal.

Don’t get me wrong – I like Star Wars, and I completely understand why fans love it. Heros’ journeys, an epic battle between good and evil, jaw-dropping plot twists, lightsabers – what’s not to like? But Star Trek is special to me because it was one of the most concrete indications I had as a young person that my political views weren’t ludicrous, they were profoundly humanitarian.

Obviously, I still love Charlotte despite her preference for Star Wars (although I do not appreciate what she said about tribbles). I’m just glad to have a partner and chosen family who believe, as I do, that all humans deserve a freer, healthier, more prosperous world in which to live as they choose.


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