Star Trek Icon Confirms Forbidden Onscreen Romance?

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Despite being such an ostensibly progressive franchise, Star Trek didn’t have any openly non-heterosexual main characters until Discovery. However, fans have often speculated about which beloved characters might have secretly had a thing for each other.

Garak is the most frequent subject of that speculation, and that’s just the way actor Andrew Robinson likes it: in a later interview, he confirmed that he thought his character had completely “inclusive” sexuality and was very interested in romance with Dr. Bashir.

Tumblr Was Right

The character of Garak was introduced in the Deep Space Nine episode “Past Prologue,” which was only the show’s second ep and the Cardassian’s only appearance in Seaosn 1. In the story, he has the first of what will become many memorable interactions with Dr. Bashir…in this case, spying on the Duras Sisters.

Regarding their first scene together, Robinson later confirmed that Garak was looking for romance, noting that “I loved the man’s absolute fearlessness about presenting himself to an attractive Human being.”

In Retrospect, It’s Very Obvious

Because of this and future scenes between Garak and Dr. Bashir, many fans assumed that their budding romance (which really does seem obvious when you go back and watch their earliest interactions) meant that the Cardassian was gay. Robinson, however, saw things as a little more complex, saying that his character is “not gay, he’s not straight, it’s a non-issue for him” and that “his sexuality is inclusive.” In retrospect, he believes that this take was “too sophisticated” for the show and for audiences of the time.

Studio Squashed The Relationship

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Regardless of sophistication, one thing that is for sure is that Paramount did its best to kill the Garak/Bashir romance before it could go any further. According to Robinson, there were many reasons for this, including the fact “that Americans really are very nervous about sexual ambiguity.”

More pertinent to his employment, the actor said that Paramount considered Deep Space Nine “a family show” which meant (especially in the early 90s) “they have to keep it on the ‘straight and narrow,’” causing him to back off from trying to make this onscreen romance happen.

Robinson Wanted To Explore The Relationship

Garak’s “inclusive” sexuality was never confirmed onscreen, but it has been notably confirmed by Andrew Robinson (who helped extensively write his character’s background and eventually released it as an official book, A Stitch In Time) and DS9 showrunner Ira Steven Behr.

The showrunner pointed out that the character is “clearly gay or queer or however you want to say it” and that, if Paramount had allowed it, he “would have loved to have taken that and see where that went and how that affected his relationship with Bashir.”

Recently Confirmed…Sort Of

Aside from both the actor and the showrunner confirming that Garak wanted to have a forbidden (by Paramount, at least) romance with Bashir, we have also gotten an official confirmation from Star Trek in the weirdest possible way: a mobile game.

The Lower Decks mobile game is filled with plenty of in-jokes for the franchise, and at one point, Dr. Bashir actually says “you don’t have to tell me, I know how difficult it can be, dating a Cardassian.” Fans will quibble over how canonical this line is meant to be, but this is the first time official Star Trek media has acknowledged these characters having a relationship.

Modern Star Trek Reflects Its Progressive Outlook

These days, Star Trek shows like Discovery have centered on gay couples and other non-traditional relationships that would have made the heads of ‘90s Paramount executives explode like that dude from Scanners.

Hopefully, newer fans will respect that Garak had to pave the way for such inclusionary characters and stories despite missing out on his own forbidden human romance. Remember this about Garak, kids: he’s here, he’s queer, and he’s not going sewing.

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