George Takei got paid $55,000 to speak at the University of California, San Diego.
Takei was one of the latest in an ongoing lecture series at UCSD. The DeWitt Higgs Memorial Lecture, which is hosted by the Earl Warren College Law and Society Program, regularly has speakers come to talk about their work in justice, society, and law.
Takei was chosen to speak at the school this past week due to his human rights work for both the Asian community and the LGBTQ community.
To have Takei come visit and give his, “Where NO Story Has Gone Before: An Evening with George Takei” lecture, the UCSD had to pay a pretty penny.
“George Takei’s standard college/university speaking fee is $55,000, which we paid just as our sister UC campuses, UCSB and UC Davis, and many other peer institutions have done,” Warren College Provost Emily Roxbury told UCSD's The Guardian.
That said, most students and visitors who saw the lecture paid nothing. 937 tickets were issued and 700 of those tickets were given away for free.
Despite the high cost to the school, George Takei’s lecture was highly valuable, and students walked away feeling educated and enlightened.
“I thought it was phenomenal,” a student named Kristen Lee told The Guardian. “I enjoyed learning about his background and his speech about LGBTQ rights and everything. He had all the cards stacked against him and all the adversity he overcame — it was just truly incredible to hear him speak.”
The lecture encompassed many different issues such as Takei’s childhood in Japanese internment camps, his time working on “Star Trek: The Original Series,” his contributions to LGBTQ rights/charities, and his social media presence.
Possibly, one of his most notable moments was when Takei expressed his time in the closet and the moment when he decided to come out.
Takei shared that he first felt fearful as a working gay actor as he thought his sexuality would ruin his career.
“I thought I was the only one, and it was a lonely feeling,” Takei said. “Hiding a double life is a torturous life. When I started pursuing an acting career, I maintained that double life.”
That said, Takei felt the call to come out and act in 2005 after Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was California's governor at the time, vetoed a bill to legalize gay marriage. Takei said he then confronted Schwarzenegger on the Howard Stern Show.
“I’m very disappointed with you Governor Schwarzenegger because when you ran for office, you made all these moderate statements on various issues,” Takei recounted. “One of them being that you’ve worked with gays and lesbians in the motion picture business, you were very comfortable and you had no problem with it, but when the real moment of truth came … you chose to go against all those things you said during the campaign.”
After that, Takei discussed his contributions to LGBTQ issues, such as being a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign “Coming Out Project.”
Then, it was time for the Q&A when students asked the actor and social media personality questions concerning his life and legacy.
After the lecture had finished, many students, staff, and visitors walked away impressed by George Takei's words, presence, and history.
h/t: UCSD's The Guardian