Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Gay actor George Takei among 2016 CA Hall of Fame inductees

CA Hal of Fame inductee George Takei. Photo: courtesy Takei's Facebook page.

CA Hall of Fame inductee George Takei. Photo: courtesy Takei’s Facebook page.

Gay actor George Takei is among the 2016 California Hall of Fame inductees, the second time a member of the LGBT community has been granted such an honor during Governor Jerry Brown’s current term.

Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, along with the California Museum, announced the 10th class of inductees in a news release issued today (Monday, October 3).

“I am a proud second generation Californian, humbled to be honored by a state singular in its beauty, diversity and dynamism,” stated Takei, famous for his role as Lieutenant Sulu in the science fiction series Star Trek and a vocal supporter of LGBT rights. “To be inducted to join the inspiring trail blazers in the arts, industry, academia, sports and political affairs is an honor beyond words. This is truly the Golden State.”

Last year gay British artist David Hockney was inducted into the hall. It was the first time the Brown administration had named an LGBT inductee.

There had been a community effort to have the late gay icon and drag queen Jose Julio Sarria, who was the first gay person to seek public office when he sought a San Francisco supervisor seat in 1961, be inducted last year. The backers of the campaign had hoped to see him be inducted this year.

Created in 2006 by the California Museum, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his now estranged wife, Maria Shriver, who is also an inductee this year, the Hall of Fame honors residents of the state who have made lasting contributions to society. Honorees receive the Spirit of California medal, and their accomplishments become part of the permanent record in the California State Archives.

As the Bay Area Reporter noted in a January 2015 story, there are few LGBT people among the more than 110 people who have been selected for the hall. The list now includes two lesbians and three gay men, as well as a female inductee who has had same-sex relationships but does not identify as lesbian or bisexual.

In 2009 Schwarzenegger and Shriver chose the late gay Supervisor Harvey Milk as a member of the fourth class to be inducted.

They had selected tennis great Billie Jean King, an out lesbian, to be among the first class picked a decade ago. The biographies for both King and Milk posted on the California Museum’s website mention their ties to the LGBT community.

Also among the inaugural group was astronaut Sally Ride, but her online bio does not mention that she came out as a lesbian upon her death in 2012.

The bio for another member of the first class, author Alice Walker, does not disclose that her lovers have included singer Tracy Chapman.

Joining Takei and Shriver as the other 2016 inductees are acclaimed author Isabel Allende; film icon Harrison Ford; baseball legend Tony Gwynn; distinguished artist and social justice advocate Corita Kent; former U.S. Secretary of Defense and nuclear deterrence expert William J. Perry; and music business pioneer Russ Solomon.

The induction ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, November 30 at the California Museum, located at 1020 O Street in Sacramento.

In addition to the ceremony, inductees will be commemorated with an exhibition of artifacts highlighting their lives and achievements, which opens to the public at 10 a.m. Thursday, December 1 at the California Museum.

— Matthew S. Bajko, October 3, 2016 @ 1:57 pm PST
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