The series that showed television's first interracial kiss in the 60's is now subtly including an openly gay character.
In the next Star Trek movie, helmsman Hikaru Sulu will have a partner and a daughter. Sulu will be played by John Cho.
“I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out of it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations,” Cho told Australia's newspaper, Daily Sun.
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The openly gay character is most likely a nod to George Takei, who originally played Sulu. Takei has been an LGBT activist since his coming out as gay in 2005. Rather than appreciate the gesture, he did not respond positively.
"I’m delighted that there’s a gay character," Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. "Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate."
In response, writer and actor Simon Pegg released a statement defending his choice. Noting his "huge love and respect" for Takei and seeing him as an "inspiration," Pegg also acknowledged that he had to "respectfully disagree."
"He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now," he told The Guardian. "We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?"
This reveal could not be more timely – recently, director of operations for CREDO Action Jordan Krueger released a petition to include an LGBT captain on Star Trek.
“Star Trek's core ideal is utopian," Krueger wrote on his website. "But not for LGBT people, who've been hidden or portrayed poorly. Some of Star Trek's most ham-fisted moments include characters intended to represent members of the LGBT community, and people with AIDS, while refusing to be explicit about their identities."
He continued: "Star Trek has a history of taking bold steps towards equality and diverse casting, even when the social climate of the times made it hard."