Nichelle Nichols' Tragic Connection To The Heaven's Gate Cult

The Heaven's Gate cult was founded by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles in the 1970s. The cult borrowed teachings from the Christian religion, but it was mixed with beliefs of extraterrestrials as well, which was an odd combination but somehow piqued the interest of many. Nettles died in 1985, and Applewhite continued to lead the cult's members, making them believe that the end of times was coming. As noted by ATI, Heaven's Gate members were required to let go of material things. They were banned from using drugs, having sex, and eating fast food, among other things. Furthermore, they had to leave their families to live in a cult compound.

Applewhite told his followers that they would be able to ascend to the Next Level or TELAH (The Evolutionary Level Above Human) when a spaceship comes for them before the apocalypse happens. In 1996, photos of the Hale-Bopp comet were taken, and behind it was a Saturn-Like Object (SLO). According to the Saturday Evening Post, Applewhite told his followers that the object behind the Hale-Bopp was the spaceship that would be transporting them to the Next Level.

The Heaven's Gate suicides

The Hale-Bopp comet was flying by and reached its closest distance to Earth on March 22, 1997. Heaven's Gate cult members believed that this was the perfect opportunity for them to leave their "vessels" or human bodies in order for them to go to the Next Level. On March 26, authorities received an anonymous call of a mass suicide in a Rancho Santa Fe house in San Diego. Responders discovered the dead bodies of 39 Heaven's Gate members, including Marshall Applewhite (via History). It wasn't evident that the people were dead; they were positioned on their beds all wearing the same clothing with purple cloths over their bodies, seemingly sleeping. One of those found was "Star Trek" star Nichelle Nichols' brother, Thomas Nichols.

Investigations revealed that the suicides occurred in a three-day period, and they consumed a mixture of barbiturates and alcohol to take their own lives in order for them to leave their physical bodies and enter the Next Level.

Nichelle Nichols talked about his brother

In an interview with Larry King shortly after the Heaven's Gate suicides, Nichelle Nichols talked about her brother, Thomas, as reported by The Seattle Times. Thomas had been a member of the cult for about two decades, and Nichelle said that their family respected his choice to be part of the group. Thomas appeared in a number of promotional materials for the cult, and he often identified himself as the brother of Uhura from "Star Trek."

Nichelle said that his brother had been discussing a UFO that would fetch Heaven's Gate members about three years before the suicides occurred. Despite knowing that Thomas was part of Heaven's Gate, Nichelle was extremely shocked to learn that he was one of the people who died by suicide. Today, the cult is no longer active but its official website from the '90s is still maintained. According to a Mirror article in 2017, two members of the cult were given the mission to remain on Earth in order to keep the website running. They said that they still get a few inquiries from people who want to join Heaven's Gate.