Out Actor Wilson Cruz Called a Homophobic Slur at 'Star Trek' Event

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday September 15, 2021

Wilson Cruz speaks at the "Visible: Out on Television" panel during the Apple+ TCA 2020 Winter Press Tour at the Langham Huntington, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.
Wilson Cruz speaks at the "Visible: Out on Television" panel during the Apple+ TCA 2020 Winter Press Tour at the Langham Huntington, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.  (Source:Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Out "Star Trek: Discovery" actor Wilson Cruz tweeted that he was called a homophobic slur as he took the stage during a panel presentation at "Star Trek Day", a Sept. 8 event celebrating the sci-fi franchise's 55th anniversary.

"I wonder if this was the moment on stage when I heard a 'fan' on Star Trek Day refer to me with a homophobic slur," Cruz posted on Sept. 10, along with a photo of himself on the panel dedicated to talking about the upcoming fourth season of "Discovery".

"Still smiling, though," the actor, who plays physician Hugh Culber on the series, added. "You'll never kill my joy."

"According to Cruz and fans who were among the 200 or so guests at the Skirball Cultural Center for 'Star Trek Day'," Forbes said, "someone seated at the outdoor venue called the actor a homophobic word as he was walking out onto the stage."

Cruz's tweet prompted a cascade of supportive messages, as well as a groundswell of condemnation for the person who hurled the slur from diehard franchise fans who questioned whether any true "trekkie" would have hurled such hate speech.

Cruz followed up with a tweet expressing surprise that the story had taken off the way it did. He encouraged supporters and fans to "move beyond this trivial moment. They've received enough attention, as it is."

Questions swirled as to why the person who hurled the slur was not removed from the event. Reports, detailed by Forbes, said members of the audience seated next to the woman who allegedly hurled the slur reacted (which has not been corroborated), but event personnel and others on the stage with Cruz did not hear it.

Cruz followed up again with another tweet in which he said, "I DON'T blame the EVENT at all!" and added, "That day wasn't about them and it wasn't about me. It was about Star Trek, it's legacy, it's ideals, it's visionary creator..."

Cruz later told Forbes that he was done addressing the incident: "I think the conversation and awareness that has been driven by this is enough."

The original series, which ran from 1966-1969, celebrated diversity and inclusion, depicting a multi-racial, multi-ethnic crew aboard a starship in the 23rd century. Creator Gene Roddenberry used the show as a way to tell socially relevant stories that would get by network censors.

Even so, the "Star Trek" franchise spanned five live-action series and thirteen movies before it included any LGTBQ+ characters or out actors in its principal casts.

A shift came in 2016 with the premiere of "Star Trek: Discovery", in which Cruz and fellow "Rent" alumnus Anthony Rapp, both openly gay, star as officers involved in a same-sex relationship.

Since then, "Discovery" has added the franchise's first transgender character, played by Ian Alexander, and its first non-binary character, played by Blu del Barrio.

Other LGBTQ+ actors currently on the series (whose characters have not been identified as such, however) include "Tig Notaro, Mary Wiseman, [and] Emily Coutts," Forbes noted.

"Star Trek: Discovery" returns to Paramount+ in November.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.