People often ask me about my love of Star Trek, and on this day, the 50th anniversary of its going on air, I thought I might try to explain to nonTrekkies what it means to some of us Trekkies.
I was always a black sheep, a misfit toy, the odd girl out, even when I was a child. I knew as far back as I can remember that I was different.
For starters, I had an immense compassion for animals (to the point of capturing bugs in the house and taking them outside, which I still do); bad things that happened to people wounded me deeply, to the point of not only tears, but complete exhaustion (think May Boatwright in “The Secret Life of Bees”); and I was a girly girl who also liked things that girls weren’t supposed to like (jumping ramps on my bike, climbing trees, playing Army with my friends, who were all boys).
I didn’t really fit in anywhere, with anyone. And that was OK with me, because I’ve always enjoyed my own company, and I always knew deep down that being different didn’t mean being wrong, because as I thankfully learned in Sunday school, God doesn’t make mistakes.
But children can be hard on each other, and seeing original “Star Trek” reruns on the screen when I was little helped ease my discomfort, my loneliness, my pain. In this bold new universe, I saw and related to people with too much emotion, people with too little emotion, people who had pointed ears, people who were different colors, people who had different talents, people who were happy, people who were sad, people of all races and colors and creeds, all living together in harmony and peace.
Heck, there were even girls who did “boy things,” like Lt. Uhura on the bridge of the mighty and glorious Enterprise. I longed to live on that ship, where everyone cared about everyone and no one was bullied or ostracized, where everyone was not only tolerated but accepted and celebrated no matter who or what they were.
And before you knew it, there came the movies, and then “The Next Generation,” and all the series and movies in between and after those. I wonder, when Gene Roddenberry was creating that first show, if he knew that he was creating a place where us misfits could fit in, could feel approved and valued, could feel we belonged, could even be the cool kids. If he didn’t then, I hope he knew before he died.
He created an alternate place for many of us to reside – in secret or in the open – to become a family, to be good to one another, to be loved. I so thank him for that, especially today, on Star Trek’s 50th anniversary/birthday.
And I thank all of my Trek friends, my own band of cool kids, who have made me feel less lonely in a world gone quite mad with power and hatred and ridiculousness.
And to all of you, Trekkies and nonTrekkies, I wish for you to Live Long And Prosper.