Star Trek franchise introduces their first openly gay character

With their 50th anniversary closing in, the Star Trek franchise finally introduces its first officially open gay gay character. Hikaru Sulu, the helmsman on the USS Enterprise, is confirmed to have a male partner and a daughter in the upcoming movie Star Trek Beyond.

Promoting the film in Australia, John Cho, who currently plays the character of Sulu, revealed that it was screenwriter Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin’s decision to downplay this aspect of Sulu.

“I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicise one’s personal orientations,” Cho said.

While John Cho is playing the first gay character in the long running franchise, George Takei, who played Sulu in the original Star Trek series is prominent activist fighting for the rights of the LGBT community. Simon Pegg’s idea of changing Sulu’s sexual orientation is being considered as an ode to Takei as well.

George Takei portraying Sulu in the original Star Trek series
George Takei as Sulu in the original Star Trek series

Takei was both excited and dismayed at John Cho’s revelation. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter he said: “

“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. [Roddenberry] was a strong supporter of LGBT equality [at the time]. But he said he [had] been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.”

“I told him [John Cho],  ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted. This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character.’ I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen.”

Star Trek, starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Idris Elba and Simon Pegg, is set to release on July 22, 2016. Watch the final trailer of Star Trek Beyond, featuring Rihanna’s sledgehammer:

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