Today, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation announced that actor and rights activist George Takei, best known for his television and movie role as Mr. Sulu in Star Trek, will be honored in February at HRC’sTime to THRIVE conference in Portland, Ore.

The ground-breaking Time to THRIVE conference, which last year featured actress Ellen Page’s profoundly inspirational coming out speech, attracts hundreds of adults who play crucial roles in the everyday lives of LGBTQ youth - from teachers, counselors, clergy, and coaches, to staff from youth development organizations including scouting and Boys and Girls Clubs. More than 50 workshops on topics such as creating safe and inclusive schools, and supporting transgender and gender-expansive youth, are available to attendees.

In honoring Takei with its Upstander Award, HRC has singled out an actor made famous by his role in Star Trek, but who tells his 1.47 million Twitter followers, and another 8.2 million followers on Facebook, that he hopes people know him as a “believer in, and a fighter for, the equality and dignity of all human beings.” Takei, who revealed he was gay in 2005 after then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed that state’s same-sex marriage bill, married his partner of 21 years three years later.

“I spent most of my life and career in the closet, because when I was starting out as a young man, you couldn't be openly gay and have a successful career. I have seen so much change in my lifetime – even in the years since I came out publicly,” Takei said.

“Yet LGBTQ youth still face so many negative influences that put them at a disadvantage and make their lives more difficult. It’s a privilege for me to be a part of Time to THRIVE, where we can come together with LGBTQ youth, and those who work directly with them, and talk about the changes that these young people need to see in order to ensure their safety, inclusion and well-being,” he said. 

A Japanese-American, Takei and his family were uprooted from Los Angeles during World War II and confined in a government internment camp with 120,000 other Japanese Americans until the war’s end. That experience inspired one of Takei’s current projects: a musical in which he stars that follows the fictional Kimura family from their home in California to an internment camp in rural Wyoming, and beyond.

Takei’s acting career has spanned five decades, and includes more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television guest starring roles. An HRC member, he served during the Clinton administration on the Board of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission, and in 2004 was honored by the Emperor of Japan. He is the subject of the documentary, “To Be Takei,” and has written three books - an autobiography, and two about his forays on the Internet and into social media, where, with his wit and commitment to social justice, he has attracted an enormous new generation of admirers, many unfamiliar with his Star Trek fame.

Time to THRIVE is the premier national convening of youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts and national organizations in the field.  Time to THRIVE will take place over President’s Day Weekend, February 13-15, 2015 at the Hilton Portland and Executive Tower in Portland, OR.  To register, visit www.TimeToThrive.org.  


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