[from Spangle]George Takei was gathered around the copier one morning decades ago, chatting with Walter Koenig (he of the thick, sorta-Eastern European-accented Mr. Chekov), when Koenig started making head gestures, urging him to turn around. Puzzled, he followed his co-star’s lead, pivoting around to discover the production’s extras, fully costumed and standing around before the next take.

“And one was stunningly gorgeous, in a tight Star Trek shirt that clung to his pectorals,” Takei says. “… And that’s when I knew Walter ‘knew’ and was helping me out.”

Supportive co-stars have marked Takei’s career (Koenig and good friend Nichelle Nichols — Uhura — stood up for him at his wedding), but in the late-‘50s and ‘60s, being out wasn’t an option.

“When I was starting out as a professional actor, you’d go to an interview and there were a dozen other people who physically qualified for the part: They’re all Asian,” the 72-year-old actor says. “But when you have everything equal … they find reasons to reject you. Too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too young, too old. And you want to get the part, and you don’t want to have another ‘too this’ or ‘too that.’ So you hid that you’re gay. You essentially live a double life.”

He took female friends to parties and premieres. But with a regular gig on a TV series — Star Trek — he found himself working daily with the same people, whom he was getting to know and become comfortable around.

“You bring your boyfriend, but you just introduce him as your friend,” Takei explains. “But the week after, you bring him again. And Hollywood people are sophisticated, so they get it. [They say:] ‘Oh George! I get it!’”