How many lives have been profoundly changed or positively affected as a result of Star Trek? I have met legions of fans who have remarkably uplifting stories of how Star Trek pulled them out of despair and gave them a new outlook on life. Not many shows can say that to the degree Star Trek can!
What is really impressive to me, though, is how Star Trek has affected so many lives in yet another way no less profound. I’m talking about the “Starfleet Dating Service” – Star Trek has introduced many a lonely fan to their lifetime partner. I have heard of countless Trek weddings (and attended one) that were performed in full Starfleet uniform (along with a few Klingon guests!) The story is the same - the couple had met at a Star Trek convention or a fan club meeting (or now through online Sci-Fi/Trek dating services). In the Star Trek Communicator magazine I used to publish, we offered classifieds where fans could run personal ads; dozens of fans have written me over the years and said they met their partners this way.
Even among my own Official Star Trek Fan Club employees, several, over the course of 25 years, had marriages as a result of Star Trek; I, myself, met my wife at a fan event. Because Star Trek is approaching its 45th anniversary, it is not uncommon these days to meet entire families who are Trekkers. It is now creating “generations” of fans who each love their own version of Star Trek. Many years ago, I was introduced to the Russell family at a convention here in Denver. Grandmother Russell had been an Official Fan Club member since the beginning – going back to almost 1980. Her son, Donald, was a huge fan and had met his wife standing in line for one of the films. They brought along their daughter, Megan, who was almost 9 and loved Captain Janeway (and her Janeway doll) and was a big fan of Voyager.
Some “Trek families” take their vacation to a convention – as is often the case with Creation’s big Star Trek cons in Las Vegas. I am especially fond of the families who dress in costume. A couple of years ago I was introduced to a fun family at the Vegas con all decked out in Next Generation Starfleet uniforms – dad, mom and daughter. You would’ve sworn that their costumes were taken straight from the set!
My favorite, though, was at one of the San Diego Comic-Cons when I bumped into the Klingon family: dad and mom were both in full Klingon regalia, along with their 5-year-old little Klingon (who actually could spout a few lines of Klingonese!) and their 10-month-old baby Klingon – complete with ridge on forehead. He even had the temper of a Klingon! While those who don’t understand might think this weird, these families are sharing a love for something that is important to them and having a great time, too! How is it any different than families all face-painted and costumed-up going to their favorite NFL football game?
Who knows? Perhaps the next great invention or scientific/medical breakthrough or the first man/woman to walk on Mars will be here on this planet as a result of Star Trek, which brought together their parents and influenced them as they grew up with the show. In this way, Star Trek will definitely have gone from imagination to reality.
But the children growing up today on our complex planet might very well see the earliest beginnings of the kind of space travel and future world we imagine on Star Trek. I’m sure when Gene Roddenberry sat down to create his science-fiction television show, he never dreamed that it would one day influence so many people around the world. Perhaps when the first starship really does leave Earth, it will carry on it space travelers who come from a proud, long line of Star Trek families! How about you? Did you meet your husband/wife/significant other through Star Trek or know someone who did? There are more out there than you might think!
Dan Madsen is the former founder, president and publisher of the Official Star Trek Fan Club and Official Star Trek Communicator Magazine. He now works with actress Ashley Eckstein's company, Her Universe, which produces fashionable, female-focused apparel for Sci-Fi fans.