A year before The Next Generation premiered in 1987, Franklin Hummel and John Dumas from Boston founded the Gaylaxians - an organisation for gay, lesbian and bisexual fans of science fiction.
Various members of the Boston Gaylaxians began to write letters to Gene Roddenberry almost as soon as they learned of the upcoming production. For the next four years they received only standard reply letters. The Gaylaxians became concerned that there were no neutral (let alone positive) representations of homosexuality on TNG, and that things might be going in the opposite direction...
Franklin Hummel, Co-founder of Gaylactic Gazette, writing in 1991
'Star Trek celebrates its 25th anniversary in 1991. In that quarter century, one of the most important aspects of the series... has been the vision that humanity will one day put aside its differences to work and live in peace together. Star Trek, in its various television and motion picture forms, has presented us with Africans, Asians, Americans and Andorians, Russians and Romulans, French and Ferengi, Hispanics and Hortas, humans and non-human men and women. Yet in 25 years, it has never shown an openly gay character.'
Franklin Hummel, interviewed for 'The Advocate', 1991
'Though all the primary and secondary characters have been decisively portrayed as heterosexual, the new series has twice made allusions to homosexuality. In one [''The Most Toys''], a male android [Data] ...is kidnapped and forced to change from his uniform to the clothes his abductor wants him to wear. The thief, who is depicted as unctuous and unscrupulous, tells the android, 'Personally I'd be delighted to see you go around naked. I assume you have no modesty'.
Even more troubling was the episode titled "The Host", in which the ship's surgeon, a woman [Dr. Beverly Crusher], falls in love with an alien-human symbiont whose humanoid host dies. While the doctor engages in a torrid 24-hour affair with a fellow officer to whom the alien creature is temporarily transferred, she reacts with stiff unease when the permanent host turns out to be another woman, not even rising from her desk to kiss her goodbye.'
The Gaylaxians now decided to organise their efforts into a concerted formal letter writing campaign. It got under way in May 1991, and by July its effect was being felt. One of Roddenberry's personal assistants, Ernest Over, testified to the reach of the campaign in the August 1991 edition of 'The Advocate', saying:
'The production office has received more letters on this than we've had on anything else.'
Soon there were high-profile endorsements of the campaign. Leonard Nimoy made a public statement in support of the concept of a gay character and Arthur C. Clarke wrote a public letter to his old friend Roddenberry endorsing the idea and encouraging him to respond.
In August 1991, 'The Advocate' published a prepared statement by Roddenberry which included the following: 'In the fifth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, viewers will see more of shipboard life in some episodes which will, among other things, include gay crew members in day-to-day circumstances.'
Roddenberry, who was seriously ill at the time of his statement, died in November 1991, and no anonymous gay crew members were ever shown that season, nor on any succeeding episode of TNG. The Gaylaxians and other organisations are still lobbying Paramount executives. Now the Voyager Visability Project campaigns for the addition of at least one positive, on-going gay and/or lesbian character into the cast of Voyager. It remains to be seen whether Paramount will make it so.