Mr. Sulu beamed down to lend support to student gay activists who tried to visit a private Christian university.
George Takei, who played the helmsman in three "Star Trek" TV seasons and six movies, made a surprise appearance Monday after a busload of Soulforce Equality Riders tried to talk about faith and gay rights with students at North Central University in downtown Minneapolis.
The 33 activists are traveling by bus to 19 U.S. colleges with religion-based policies opposed to homosexuality. They were locked out of school buildings when they arrived at North Central, which is owned and operated by the Assemblies of God.
After sitting in front of the doors for most of the afternoon, the Soulforce riders and supporters rallied at a park across the street when Takei, who came out as a homosexual last year, stopped by.
The 68-year-old actor said the activists' "equality trek" shares themes with those of the starship Enterprise.
"They have shown courage and character in showing that most people of faith are not extreme reactionaries who oppose equal rights," he said.
Tour organizer Jacob Reitan, 24, said the colleges they are visiting "equate homosexuality with sickness and sin. It's time to have a conversation instead of defaming our humanity."
Nate Ruch, executive director of university relations at North Central, said last week that the riders declined an offer to have a third party mediate a discussion.
Takei was in town to speak at a gay pride event at the University of Minnesota.