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These excerpts are from the Enterprise chapter in Star Trek: The Human Frontier (2nd edition, 2016)by Michele Barrett and Duncan Barrett. The first two images are from page 136 but I wanted to include the endnote referenced in the second paragraph – if you want to see the original, the TrekMovie.com article is here and the exchange between the writer and Braga is in the comments.
- With the debut of Enterprise in 2001, hopes were indeed high that Star Trek would finally include a gay character among the core cast, but once again fans were disappointed. The character of Malcolm Reed – a deeply private and socially awkward Englishman, who many expected to come out of the closet at any moment – turned out to be solidly heterosexual. In fact the question of Reed’s sexuality shines an interesting light on the way that this vexed topic was treated at the highest levels of the Star Trek production. When the actor who played Reed, Dominic Keating, saw a magazine article suggesting that his character might be gay, he was alarmed and immediately rang up Enterprise’s showrunner, Brannon Braga. Braga’s response was to wind him up by pretending that it was true and that he had already had lots of gay-interest press lined up, something he evidently assumed would embarrass Keating. (Interestingly, the gay rumours surrounding Malcolm do receive a slight nod in the series’ final episode, ‘These Are the Voyages…’ – although as this is largely an effect of clever editing, it’s hard to know if it was written into Braga’s script or a directorial intervention.)
- It is perhaps not surprising that Enterprise, whose executive producers were Braga – who has publicly apologised for at least one instance of what we might characterise as mild homophobic bullying (see endnote 61 below) – and Berman, whose history on the issue is well known, failed to deal with the long-standing omission of a gay character on Star Trek. The closest the show came was the episode ‘Stigma,’ which presents a Vulcan disease (Pa’nar Syndrome) as a not-so-subtle allegory for HIV – it is contracted by mind-melding, which in the prequel timeframe of Enterprise is seen as a deviant practice performed by a ‘subculture’ of Vulcan society. This episode, though undoubtedly well-intentioned, was a decade or so too late for its point about HIV to pack much punch.
- Endnote 61: In an online discussion at TrekMovie.com in 2007 (‘VegasCon 07 – Braga Reflects on a Life With Trek’) a freelance writer described a ‘pitch session from hell’ on Voyager, in which Braga (who knew the writer was gay) pretended to think that he was proposing to introduce a male love interest for Harry Kim, and then tried to embarrass him with crude sexual innuendo (‘So, at any time does Harry actually get to lick her wormhole?’). Braga responded, ‘Dude, I am sorry for that…You deserved an apology. Just sorry it was a decade late.’