Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Actor Wanted His Character to Be Openly Gay

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was thrust back into the spotlight last year with the release of the documentary What We Left Behind: Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This year, Deep Space Nine is returning to comics for the first time in over a decade. Part of the discussion around the show has been its representation of LGBTQ+ characters. While the series did have the first same-sex kiss in Star Trek history, it didn't have an openly gay character. On the other hand, it did have a character that many read as bisexual or gay. Actor Andrew Robinson backs up that interpretation. In an interview with Trek Movie, he discussed his character, Garak, and his relationship with DS9's chief medical officer, Dr. Julian Bashir.

"Besides the fact that that they were looking for a relationship for Dr. Bashir—and that worked out great, because [Alexander Siddig] and I really got on and are still friends to this day. I think that was the main thing, that Sid and I got on," Robinson says of why the series kept bringing him back as Garak. "But then there was the ambiguity about Garak that they had written in. Who is this guy, he is a mystery and so forth. What I added to that in that first episode was a sexual ambiguity about Garak. In that very first scene when he meets Dr. Bashir it’s clear as a bell— and this was my choice—that he was sexually attracted to this good-looking young Starfleet doctor. And although they didn’t follow that up with an explicitly gay character, that ambiguity about Garak remained. And it was appropriate for what they had written about his ambiguity, is he a tailor, a spy, what is he?"

Robinsons goes on to say that he would have liked to have made Garak openly gay instead. "I broadcast it as strongly as I could," he says. "But you know, they never really followed up on it, we never even had a discussion about it. Deep Space Nine was already at right angles to the Star Trek franchise. It was a different kind of Star Trek show. And I think that suddenly to bring on an openly gay alien, who, who was having this relationship with Dr. Bashir. I think that was maybe a bridge too far. I’m guessing at this, but I, but I think that may be it.

That said, the producers never asked him to tone anything down. "No, they didn’t. I think they liked it. I think Ira [Steven Behr] and the writers loved that it just added to the mystery of the guy. What is he? Who is he? Is he this or is he that? I think it just reinforced what they were already trying to do with the character."

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