Where No Trekker Has Gone Before

Comic book introduces first gay Federation member in Star Trek history

By Joal Ryan Feb 28, 1998 8:00 PMTags
To a degree, all the characters of the Star Trek family are "out" there--as in outerspace. But for the first time, a Federation member is "out" there--as in "out of the closet."

On newsstands this week: Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, the monthly comic-book title, featuring a subplot about a gay cadet.

The issue is historic--making Nebula Squadron member Yoshi Mishima the first "outed" regular Trekker character in the 30-plus year run of the franchise's TV, film, book and comic life.

"For the most part, people think it's cool," says Marvel Comics editor Bobbi Chase.

The first bag of reader mail on the issue (No. 17) arrived at her New York office this week. Among the bundle, one negative letter (a reader protesting on religious grounds), the rest supportive, she says.

To Chase, the plot point is a reaffirmation of the Trekker ideal.

"My writer was trying to make a strong case that the Star Trek future is a utopian future where tolerance of all beliefs and of all races...is the name [of the game]," she says.

Chris Cooper, who scripts Starfleet Academy, told online's TVGEN that he'd been writing the character "gay all along, but I just never came right out and said it." Until now.

In the series, Yoshi is the roommate of leading man Matthew Decker. The two are part of a young-guns training squadron--budding Captains Kirk and Picard.

No "Yep, I'm gay" installment of Ellen, the comic's history-making revelation is an underplayed affair. Yoshi's bedroom habits go unspoken until Halakith, a green alien with a triceratops of a head, balks at sharing quarters with the cadet while the squadron docks at (Warning: Franchise tie-in dead-ahead!) Deep Space Nine. (Shouts Halakith: "It's sick and morally wrong!")

Captain Kirk, in the guise of actor William Shatner, has had kinder words for pioneering Yoshi: "May he fly farther and faster," the actor told TVGEN.

Unfortunately, the pits of the comic-book biz mean Yoshi won't fly at all after this month. Starfleet Academy has been canceled, Chase says. A planned Yoshi storyline, to culminate in about Issue No. 24, has been short-circuited because the title is ending with Issue No. 19.

Of course, with a galaxy of Vulcans and Ferengis and Klingons on hand, there's never a shortage of alternative lifestyles in the Trek universe.