Update: George Takei criticized the move to reveal Sulu as gay, but Beyond stars Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg disagree, the latter suggesting such a move would have been “tokenism.”
This news comes fresh from Australia, where the Star Trek Beyond team was there promoting the movie. John Cho gave an interview to the Herald Sun, revealing that his character has a husband as well as a daughter (who made her first appearance in Star Trek: Generations).
“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,” Cho told the newspaper.
While Sulu was never romantically paired up with anyone before, mirror universe Sulu definitely had a thing for Uhura. But who says your mirror universe counterpart has to share your sexual preferences?
The decision was a nod to original Sulu George Takei, who came out publicly in 2005 and has been an LGBTQ activist ever since. He and his husband Brad were the first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license in California in May of 2008; they’ve been together for almost 30 years.
Takei has said that he spoke to Gene Roddenberry about including a gay crew member when they were shooting the original series, and while Roddenberry completely supported the idea in theory, he admitted that if he did that, he knew they’d be taken off the air. He told Takei that he had to fight so many battles to get his ideas across, that losing the show over this one wasn’t the right one to choose. Takei, who hadn’t come out yet, understood and agreed.
But now it’s 2016. Bryan Fuller has been hinting that the new Trek series coming next year will be colorblind and genderblind, and has hinted at the possibility of gay characters, and now Star Trek Beyond has paved the way.
Infinite diversity in infinite combinations!
UPDATE – George Takei spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday and expressed his disappointment in the change to Sulu’s sexual orientation, calling it “really unfortunate”. He is thrilled that there is a now a gay character in the Star Trek universe, but unhappy that it is Sulu, calling it “a twisting of Gene[Roddenberry]’s creation.” He made his feelings known to the Star Trek Beyond production crew last year, and implored them to create a new character, telling John Cho to “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.”
To learn more about George’s feelings on the matter, go here.
UPDATE – Beyond stars Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg respectfully disagreed with Takei’s sentiments. Quinto, himself openly gay, said:
“…my hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be.”
Video of his statements are available here.
While Pegg agreed with some of Takei’s sentiments, he told The Guardian that:
“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. 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?”