For years there has been a call from fans to include someone LGBTQ in the Star Trek universe. Back when the series creator, Gene Roddenberry, was alive he kept reminding us that humanity has evolved to a point where there was no glass ceiling based on race, gender, or even sexuality, and that issues of hate and social divide were a thing of the past. Because of this fans have been demanding that Gene’s vision be put into full effect. There have been starships with female Captains, and there was a significant starbase that was commanded by someone who was black. Even Hikaru Sulu, who was as Japanese as its actor, George Takei, was finally given command of a starship. The only thing that had been missing was someone of the LGBTQ community, and now it appears that it has happened as it was reported today that the upcoming film Star Trek Beyond is going to make a big reveal that Hikaru Sulu will be in a same-sex relationship with both a husband and their daughter back on Earth. The reason this has been done is reportedly to honor actor George Takei who came out in 2005 and has become a very vocal supporter for LGBTQ equality throughout the world.
Sulu has never been identified as having been gay, and in fact was even shown to have an attraction to communications officer Lt. Uhura, albeit it was a Sulu from an alternate universe. Both prior, and since, there has never been any indication that Sulu ever had any romantic relationships with anyone of either the male or female gender in the official Star Trek canon, but it was revealed in the 1994 film Star Trek: Generations that he had a daughter named Demora, so for Sulu to be revealed as being gay isn’t exactly “retconning” the character, there are some who feel that this flies in the face of who Sulu was and how he conducted his life. The person who is most boldly making that statement is none other than George Takei himself.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Takei revealed at how he would actually prefer to have Sulu remain heterosexual, because that is how Gene Roddenberry originally conceived the character to be.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
He went further to explain that Roddenberry spent a great deal of time in the creation of each of the main Star Trek characters, and that Sulu was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate. However it was sometime last year when Takei learned about this possible change in Sulu’s sexuality, and it was from none other than current Sulu actor John Cho. Takei was of the mindset that to really honor Gene’s vision that a new character should be created who might fit the demand for a gay character, but after having another conversation with director Justin Lin he felt that they were going to continue on with this plan for Sulu despite any protestations that Takei offered up.
Takei for his part is hoping to take Sulu in new directions as well, potentially on CBS’ upcoming Star Trek series, slated to premiere in January 2017 and co-run by Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller, who is openly gay.
“Leonard Nimoy made two cameo appearances [in Star Trek films]. There’s no reason why an ancient, wise Admiral Sulu can’t appear, or maybe an alien creature who sounds like me. That should be fun,” Takei says, then lets out his famous, basso profundo laugh.
Star Trek Beyond opens on July 22, 2016.
What are your thoughts about this revelation regarding Sulu in Star Trek Beyond? Is this a good move for the franchise, or does this provide some form of disservice to Gene Roddenberry’s vision just as George Takei has stated? Is this an increase in diversity, or is it pandering?
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