In a recent interview with SiriusXM Progress' Michelangelo Signorile, out actor George Takei discussed why he remained in the closet for so long.

Takei came out gay in 2005. He went on to marry his partner Brad Altman and become an LGBT rights advocate.

But during the height of his career, when he was playing Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek, Takei did not discuss his sexuality publicly.

“My father told me about American democracy,” Takei said. “And he said you have to be actively engaged in the political process to make our democracy work. So, I've been doing that my entire life. … But I was silent on that one issue that was closest to me.”

“If I wanted that career [of acting] I had to be closeted.”

“Because when I was a teenager, there was a heartthrob I had named Tab Hunter. He was a blond, stunningly handsome boy next door, all-American movie star guy. Every other movie coming from Warner Brothers studio starred Tab Hunter. But Confidential magazine exposed him as gay, and suddenly he faded. And that taught me a lesson.”

(Related: Tab Hunter: Gay actors pressured to stay closeted.)

“It was such a relief to be out and not be looking over your shoulder or tightly gripped all the time,” Takei added.

Takei currently stars in the Broadway musical Allegiance.