When dealing with an HIV initiative, many fans tend to think that “Stigma” is a bit ten years too late. Star Trek: Enterprise’s second season entry was part of an HIV initiative by Paramount to bring attention to the disease. As executive producer Rick Berman notes, they were directed to make the episode. However, the presentation was impactful enough for them to take a shot at a story.
There are many in the Star Trek community that like to shit on almost every entry. Almost to say that every episode is leaps and bounds inferior to that of TNG, which had many inferior episodes. My perception of this episode wasn’t about the current state of HIV but how it is viewed from the onset. Some had issues with a certain segment of Vulcans being called a “minority”. All of this missed the relevant point of this multi pronged episode.
First off, not everyone was advanced as the United States was in regards to gay rights. Even now, members of the LGTBQ community are treated as second class citizens in other countries like Africa and Russia. So, the allegory works. Even today.
T’Pol contracts a disease that only occurs in a small segment of the Vulcan population that practices mind melds. Back in “Fusion”, T’Pol was a victim of assault when she was melded against her will. If it is found out that she has this disease, this could end her career and be an outcast.
“Stigma” pulls on the idea that she will not tell Vulcan High Command about her condition. Especially that she received it without her consent. The belief is that would reinforce the behavior Vulcans already have against this group. Another aspect is that she is acting like a victim of assault. Hiding it due to shame. There are notes in her performance that indicate that she isn’t telling the whole truth.
Disrespecting Beverly – No Picard Season 2
“Stigma” – (Memory Alpha)
Almost as if she remains silent, she wouldn’t have to face the cold fact. Vulcan’s attitude is that of conservative groups in the early eighties. Neither President Reagan nor Vice President Bush would acknowledge this disease that was killing thousands of gay men every day. Even the media would term it as the “gay disease”.
“Stigma” should set to remind people that even now, we aren’t that evolved from it. We had an administration that wouldn’t acknowledge the death of nearly half-a-million. The only reason a vaccine was found quickly was because it was hitting rural and Middle America. Had it been only a subset of the population like LGTBQ or ethnic minorities, would it have mattered? This story is still relevant no matter what a small minority think.