Paramount will be releasing Star Trek Beyond in just a few weeks, and there is much anticipation surrounding the film. Part of that is sadly contributed due to the tragic passing of Anton Yelchin, but the other – which in no way should overshadow the loss of the actor – is the fact that the film will officially introduce a major character as a gay father.
During the film’s overseas press tour, it has been revealed that Sulu, played by John Cho, will be gay and he and his partner have a daughter together. More on the story below.
Cho spoke to The Herald Sun about Sulu’s sexual orientation. It shouldn’t be the least bit shocking that we are getting a gay character in this franchise, after all, this is a progressive time that we are going through. Changes ranging from gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation will more than likely be in one of these reboots or remakes.
While this may be a game changer, Cho likes to see it as something else. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“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 politicize one’s personal orientations.”
That is the right way to look at it. And this wouldn’t be the first time that Star Trek has presented itself as a series reflecting diversity. In its early TV iteration, the series was among the first to have a racially diverse cast by having an Asian-American and African-American play very significant characters. So this isn’t exactly the first time that Star Trek has done something to represent diversity or change.
And Cho brings up a good point where being a gay character doesn’t mean that Hollywood is trying to push for some sort of agenda. We should embrace change. In fact, the reboot saw two major characters have interspecies relations. So if a human and alien could share a tender moment, then is it really that much of a problem if two male humans are married and have a daughter?
But here’s the thing: George Takei, the original actor who played Sulu in both the series and early films, came out as gay in 2005. Since then he has voiced his support for equal rights for the LGBTQ. One would think he’d be happiest about this news, but surprisingly, as it turns out, he is not.
It was writer and star Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin who came up with the idea to show that Sulu is a gay character in the next movie to pay homage to Takei. But Takei, who found out about the decision last year when Cho called him, wasn’t as excited as they expected he would be.
Speaking exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter, Takei said:
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s [Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry] creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
He elaborated on his feelings by explaining that Roddenberry was exhaustive in developing his characters and envisioned Sulu as a heterosexual man. So when Cho called him, he tried to convince him to make a different character gay instead:
“I told him, ‘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.'”
According to the report, this was also due to the fact that Takei was a closeted gay man for so long and he felt that Sulu, in the 23rd century, would not have to go through that. It’s also pointed out in the article that the decision doesn’t fit into the Star Trek canon either (if you consider the latest movies canon), as the rebooted movie franchise takes place before the events of the original series and so Sulu would now be a gay may who eventually went into the closet or eventually became heterosexual for some reason.
Sulu never had an actual relationship in the original series, though he does mention having a daughter named Demora (who appears in the 1994 movie Star Trek Generations), which fits in with what Beyond is doing. But according to Takei, his daughter in the original Trek came from a fling with a glamazon:
“It was, to put it crudely, a one-night stand with a glamazon. A very athletic, powerful and stunningly gorgeous woman. That’s Demora’s mother.”
You can read much more on Takei’s feelings about the decision and his attempts to have them create an original gay character over at THR.
Star Trek Beyond opens on July 22, 2016.
[Source: The Herald Sun]
Additional reporting by The Movie God