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I've seen persistent Internet rumours that the character of Geordi La Forge was originally intended to be played as a gay man. Most of these seem to stem from a note on IMDB that states that;

In the original Next Generation script, Burton's character, Geordi LaForge, was going to be gay.

I've checked the earliest version of the script that I can find as well as looking at the original casting call and writer's guide description for his character, both of which mention his race and disability, but have nothing about his sexuality.

Is this just a case of citogenesis (and wishful thinking) or is there any actual proof that this is what Roddenberry, or anyone involved in the making of the show, had in mind for this character?

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    According to the Wayback Machine, the IMDB trivia entry was added sometime between Nov 2005 and May 2006, so ideally we're looking for a reference that can be dated earlier than that.
    – IMSoP
    Apr 8 '20 at 12:47
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    I've twitted at LeVar Burton. Hopefully he can give us the inside scoop.
    – Valorum
    Apr 9 '20 at 17:44
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    I also emailed David Gerrold, he could have some information regarding character plans prior to the casting.
    – Philipp
    Apr 10 '20 at 8:04
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    Seems unlikely. Roddenberry shared, at one time, the then-fairly-mainstream view that homosexuality was a disorder, and that naturally such things would be cured by technology in the future. Emphasis because that was a product of the times, not the man, and this was an honest mistake of ignorance; modern viewpoints simply hadn't reached him yet. Of course Roddenberry was an early one to swing 'round once it did. Apr 10 '20 at 23:40
  • I thought he was gay. Why not? Apr 11 '20 at 5:28
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+500

No.

Geordi was not supposed to be gay, and Roddenberry did not plan to include gay characters until later.

I come to this conclusion because

  1. several key persons never talked about this
  2. it was not in "The Bible"
  3. the TNG Head Writer left the staff because of a conflict which would have gone very differently if Geordi had been planned as being gay
  4. It has been announced that Season 5 would include gay characters, without any mention of any plans around Geordi

Several key persons never talked about this

If Geordi would have been gay, or even been planned as gay, there are several people who would have mentioned it. Granted, there's always the possibility that they either did not know or had other reasons not to mention it - but there are several occasions where, if Geordi would have been planned as gay, they would have mentioned it.

It was not in "The Bible"

David Gerrold, who also happens to be gay, was a writer for TOS, and was brought to TNG to set up the foundation of the new series. He was heavily involved in creating "The Bible" - the Writer's and Director's Guide.

He also wrote a few articles for the "Starlog" magazine, giving us insights on how the Bible has been created:

Starlog Issue 120 (Source)

To sum it up, Roddenberry created an initial "bible", all writers contributed to it until Gerrold prepared it for Roddenberry, who finally rewrote most of it until the document was done.

Gerrold also gives us insights on the early drafts of LaForge, but other than his blindness, doesn't give us many details (If you are interested, here is the issue). His sexuality is not brought up.

Gerrold also specifically mentions that they want to avoid discrimination during casting, and that they don't want to have someone being gay just for the sake of being gay:

Starlog Issue 119

(Source)

The relevant quote is:

If we were to approach the casting of this show as a kind of ethnic Mulligan Stew, we would be committing the very same kind of discrimination that we are trying to say will not exist in the future. "Now, let's see, we need a woman, a black, an Asian, an Indian, a Russian, a gay person, an alien, an android and a child - did we leave anybody out?" That's the kind of thinking that reduces people to caricatures and stereotypes. Gene Roddenberry's thinking is to find interesting human beings and take some time exploring who they are and why they are so interesting.

In the light of this statement, it would be at least odd to have Geordi being blind, black and gay at the same time.

Anyway, the final Bible does not contain any references towards Geordi's sexual preferences:

Geordi LaForge as envisioned in the show's "Bible"

The TNG Head Writer left due to a conflict which would make a lot less sense if the claim was true

The same David Gerrold stated in an interview how Gene Roddenberry said that it was time to have gay people on the Enterprise:

So now Gene and I appeared at a Star Trek convention in November of 1986 and somebody asked “will there be gay people aboard the Enterprise?” And Gene – to give him credit for knowing the right thing to say at the right time – said “yes, it is time, we should show gay people on board the Enterprise.” This got a lot of applause. So then he repeated it in a staff meeting and balled out one of the producers and said “no, it’s time”

(Source)

Because of this, Gerrold submitted a script that actually included gay characters, but he faced stiff opposition by other writers such as Rick Berman as well as Roddenberry's own lawyer:

So Gene’s lawyer sits on Gene’s face for a while – he was another homophobe – and said “you have to take the gay characters out.” And so I give half the lines to Tasha Yar, because if we still get the episode on the air, the point will still be made. And we go through rewrite after rewrite after rewrite and the script doesn’t get any better and I see what is going on and I don’t want to be trapped in an office where we have hypocrites running the place.
[...]
Rick Berman writes that we can’t do this episode and how we are on at 4PM in some markets and mommies are going to write letters. We get half the staff saying we shouldn’t do it and the other half – those who could recognize a good story – saying “this is a hell of a script, we got to do this and demonstrate we are the Star Trek that everybody’s been waiting for.”

Gerrold then let his contract expire and left.

Had Geordi been gay at that point, this whole conflict would not make any sense. And in his capacity as the Head Writer, Gerrold was there when the foundations of TNG have been built. Therefore, if there would have been any "early TNG script" in which Geordi would have been gay, Gerrold would have known. The whole conflict would have played out much differently if the statement was true.

And for the record, the story Gerrold submitted did not include a gay Geordi LaForge.

Gay and lesbian characters were announced for TNG - but for Season 5

In 1991, it was announced that the next season (Season 5) would include gay and lesbian characters:

This season, gays and lesbians will appear unobtrusively aboard the Enterprise in the 24th Century. They weren't "outed," they won't be outcasts; apparently they'll be neither objects of pity nor melodramatic attention. Their sexual orientation will be a matter of indifference to the rest of the crew.

This article also mentions at no point that there have already been plans to have gay characters in TNG. Roddenberry died in 1991, and his plans to include gay and lesbian characters seemed to have died with him.

Bonus points

  • TNG: Booby Trap features Geordi falling in love with a female hologram. That episode aired before Roddenberry's death
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    The IMDB quote in my answer has been added to IMDB sometime after the Gerrold interview. Apart from the reference to Geordi, it seems to be heavily inspired by Gerrold. My best guess is that someone just took the info from LeVar Burton's page and added it to this quote.
    – Philipp
    Apr 8 '20 at 14:07
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    Regarding 90s Star Trek and not talking about gay rights: There actually was that Deep Space 9 episode where Dax and another woman kissed. It was framed as "forbidden love", but with the justification that it was against Trill culture because they were a couple while in previous hosts, not because they were both women. The subtext that this was actually about gay rights was pretty obvious.
    – Philipp
    Apr 8 '20 at 14:09
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    I added a section highlighting the importance and credibility of David Gerrold. He would have known about Geordi being gay, and he would have mentioned it during the later conflict.
    – Philipp
    Apr 8 '20 at 14:45
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    "Geordi was planned to be gay [...] However, Geordi was not supposed to be gay" I'm getting mixed signals from this answer. Not sure what distinction you're drawing here?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Apr 8 '20 at 20:19
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    @PhilippFlenker it read odd to me - I did a double take when "NO" was quickly followed by "... gay characters to the show (with Geordi La Forge reported to be one such character...".
    – muru
    Apr 9 '20 at 2:39

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