June is Pride Month, a celebration and recognition of the LGBTQ+ community. This inclusiveness has been a big part of Star Trek: Discovery since it began, and there’s more in store in the upcoming fourth season.
Making Gray seen
Over the weekend LGBTQ+ members of the cast and crew of Star Trek: Discovery took part in Outfest with a pre-recorded virtual panel featuring co-showrunner Michelle Paradise and cast members Anthony Rapp, Wilson Cruz, Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander, and Tig Notaro. One of the issues discussed was how the trans character of Gray (Alexander) was introduced by being killed off and then only visible for the rest of the season to his partner Adira (del Barrio). Alexander said he was reluctant at first until he saw where things were headed on the show:
With my character, I know that I was concerned when I read the script and saw that Gray dies minutes into being introduced. But I really, really did like how it became this sort of this bonding moment between him and Adira. And Adira’s love for Gray is so strong that they are able to save him. Gray is able to live on in his own way and they both really help each other through this sort of difficult time.
Alexander’s comment could indicate that in season four, this connection with Adira is the key to making Gray seen by others. Michelle Paradise later confirmed that making Gray seen is part of the upcoming season:
Culber does make a promise in our season three finale to Gray that “you will be truly seen.” And we absolutely do pay that off in season four. It’s very much going the opposite direction of the trope [Ian mentioned about trans characters]… That storyline and making sure we pay it off is hugely important.
Making a new family
In season three, we saw Anthony Rapp’s character Paul Stamets take the young Adira under his wing. During the panel, the actor talked about how Stamets, Hugh, Adira, and Gray form a new kind of family:
Parenting – they’re not children but they are young people – the pressures of how to be available to be a mentor or guide or parent in the face of job responsibilities and sort of crises, that’s an interesting sort of sub-thread through the through the season… There’s more in the ways Paul and Hugh continue to evolve in their relationship is this certainly explored also in this season.
Cruz chimed in on the same idea:
Paul and Hugh have created a chosen family this season. It has been interesting to be a daddy all of a sudden.
Blu del Barrio noted how the real-world relationship between these actors mirrors the one on screen:
[Anthony and Hugh] are my dads, and Tig is who I want to grow up to be… It’s incredible to have both of you with us so much of the time because it’s like a massive blessing as well with all of the work that you’ve done throughout your lives, with your job with your community with everything that you’ve done. to have you as mentors is unreal.
They also talked about how honored they have been to have fans of the show who are parents to LGBTQ+ kids reach out:
I haven’t met any fans in person yet because of the pandemic. But I have gotten a lot of messages, not only from trans and non-binary kids, but from parents. It was the most mind-blowing thing for me to receive messages from parents who are like, “I’m cis, but my kid just came out to me, and we watch the show and we watch these characters and we just want to say thank you for that and making something that we’re able to see and show them and show ourselves.” That’s just really insane to me.
Making queer characters heroes too
Responding to a question on what makes Discovery different in how it portrays LGBTQ+ characters, Anthony Rapp said:
I’m just not sure that we’ve seen that many queer characters be so repeatedly heroic in the ways in which our characters are doing. That being centered and being part of the solution to literally save the universe. It’s not that it was necessarily a trope otherwise, but it just didn’t really exist to my mind.
Wilson Cruz backed that up and also mentioned the importance of Culber’s return from-the-dead storyline in season two:
I think that is absolutely true that we get to be the heroes of our own stories. We see LGBTQ+ people as part of the solution. I will that we did a pretty great job of burying the “burying your gays” trope. I think we put a nice big marker on it and it’s gone. Don’t do that anymore! And I am really proud of that. I love how detailed it was and how we used it to tell the story about resilience and how this person can rebuild from a trauma by reaching out. And that love is what saves you.
Notaro shooting all her episodes at once
In May we reported that Tig Notaro had arrived in Toronto to reprise her role as Jett Reno in season four. It looks like this panel was recorded around that same time as she can be seen in the same hotel room and she said she hadn’t started shooting yet. In fact, the following exchange with the moderator indicated she may be shooting her episodes in a special way:
Notaro: You are talking to the one who hasn’t even filmed their season yet – not a single episode. It’s all going to be crammed in two weeks. I feel sorry for the directors.
Moderator: Tig, is this just a thing where you are starting to record all of your projects separately.
Notaro: [Laughs] Yes. My whole career is me being placed in or cut out very quickly.
Notaro was most recently seen in the film Army of the Dead, where she shot all her scenes after production had ended, with her part replacing another actor and being inserted into the film. It’s possible that Notaro isn’t just in Toronto to shoot some of the later episodes of Discovery season four. Late last year the actress said producers wanted her for episodes earlier in the season as well, but she wanted to limit her travel time to Toronto during the pandemic due to health reasons. So, it’s possible that while she is in Toronto, Notaro could be shooting some pickup scenes that can be inserted into earlier episodes, as indicated by her comment, “I feel sorry for the directors.” Usually, it takes two weeks to shoot a single episode of Discovery.
Stamets got a promotion
One extra detail from the panel, as Anthony Rapp was introducing himself he let a little thing slip, saying:
I am Anthony Rapp… and I have the pleasure of playing Lieutenant Commander – and now Commander – sorry, is that a spoiler? – Paul Stamets.
When the season four teaser was released in April it appeared to show that some will pass between season three and season four. This helps explain the new uniforms, but also a number of characters in the teaser were seen with new ranks, including Tilly, Detmer, and Owo. And it appears Stamets has also bumped up. This gives him the same rank as Jett Reno, who is likely the chief engineer on the ship. With Michael Burnham now in command of the USS Discovery, it’s likely Paul Stamets is now in charge of the science division for the ship.