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Star Trek's George Takei came out ten years ago, and his career — and life — only got better

George Takei (right) and his husband Brad Altman
George Takei (right) and his husband Brad Altman
John Rabe/Grant Wood/Michael Uhlenkott

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"You know, it’s not really coming out, which suggests opening a door and stepping through. It’s more like a long, long walk through what began as a narrow corridor that starts to widen. And then some doors are open and light comes in, and there are skylights and it widens." -- George Takei to Frontiers magazine, October 2005

Star Trek icon George Takei stayed closeted well into his 60s, he says, because he feared for his acting career. He well remembered what happened to Tab Hunter when Confidential magazine outed him.

So when Takei came out as gay in Frontiers magazine in 2005, he was prepared to kiss his career goodbye in exchange for speaking out about an issue he cared deeply about. But what happened next is one of the best second acts in American show business history: his career blossomed and his life expanded in ways he could never have imagined ... from innumerable roles and cameos in movies and tv, to viral videos, to a recurring guest role on Howard Stern, to - this week - his debut on Broadway in "Allegiance," the musical about the Japanese-American internment camps.

Listen to George Takei's Off-Ramp interview on getting "Allegiance" to Broadway

Coming out has brought him respect and fulfillment from unexpected corners, and as he told me in a long interview at his home in Hancock Park, it all started with being himself ... being Takei.