Imagine this; It’s the mid-1960’s. The Cold War between America and The Soviet Union is in full effect. Whites and Blacks are rioting against each other in the streets. We’re in the middle of the Vietnam War and President John F. Kennedy has been assassinated. Nobody thought we’d live to see the year 1970, let alone the next millennium. Then came Star Trek.
It was a TV show set in a future where mankind had put aside its differences to live in harmony and tolerance. Hell, in 1968, the show featured the first interracial kiss ever screened on US Television. It was so controversial, NBC affiliates in the south refused to air the episode. These days, It’s hard to even imagine something like that being a big deal. However, back then, it was a massive leap forward.
The prospect of a cast that featured an American, a Russian, a black woman, a Scotsman and an Asian working together was unheard of. The idea of the world like this was beyond comprehension at the time (no pun intended). It’s that diversity that has helped Star Trek last as long as it has. At the time, it didn’t just give people a great show. It gave everyone what they needed; it gave them hope.
That being said, it seems Star Trek will only get more diverse with the newest film, Star Trek: Beyond. Recent reports have revealed that Hikaru Sulu will come out as Star Trek‘s first openly gay character.
That bit of news came from the mouth of the actor himself, John Cho, in a recent interview with Australia’s Herald Sun. Cho stated that the decision to make Sulu gay came from writer Simon Pegg. It was meant as a nice little nod to George Takei, the actor who played Sulu in the original series, who is himself openly gay. Cho divulged more with the following:
“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.”
Today, George Takei remains a prominent activist for LGBTIQ rights. However, in the past, he dared not reveal his sexuality for fear of ruining his career in a much more closed-minded time. On that, Takei had this to say to News Corp in 2015:
“If I wanted to work as an actor I had to keep it a secret. Back then I couldn’t marry a white person — that was against the law here, miscegenation. But now I am married to a white dude so we have changed.”
However, it seems that George Takei isn’t too thrilled with Sulu being gay on Star Trek. In fact, Takei would much prefer it if Sulu were straight. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Takei reflected on hearing the news as well as his old friend, Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek).
“He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality. But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.” (Ironically, the show was cancelled regardless, the following year).
On The News Of Sulu Being Gay:
“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.”
It is kind of difficult to argue with Takei as, when I first heard the news, I had pretty much the same reaction. Before anyone says anything, I am in no way against a gay character in Star Trek. In fact, I welcome it with open arms. However, Gene Roddenberry had intended Sulu to be a straight character. If there’s going to be a character who is gay, why not make one up?
It reminded me of what they did to Bobby Drake (Iceman) in the All New X-Men comics last year. For those who don’t know, Brian Michael Bendis wrote in a plotline last year where Iceman was revealed to be gay. The problem: the character has been obviously straight since his inception, having slept with Polaris and Kitty Pryde on several occasions. He had a history of promiscuity with women. So, yeah, not only was it unnecessary, it didn’t make much sense.
The same can almost be said for Sulu. It was revealed in Star Trek: Generations that Sulu had a daughter. She wasn’t just mentioned in passing either, she was a character in the beginning of that film. I mean, I’d like to forget Star Trek: Generations exists just as much as the next self-respecting Star Trek fan, but come on. Isn’t that a bit of a flaw? Well, not really.
In the above picture, you can see they are referencing that Sulu has a daughter. He will just be in a same-sex marriage raising her. It’s not unheard of. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s not uncommon for gay men to have sex with women. Believe it or not, it does happen and regardless of how people may feel about it, it makes more sense than the Iceman thing.
Let’s just be happy it’s Sulu and not Kirk… Then again, Kirk and Spock have been getting awfully close and touchy in these newer films… okay, I’m bailing out before I inspire anymore fan-fiction.
Star Trek: Beyond hits theaters on July 22, 2016
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