‘Star Trek Beyond’ Reveals John Cho’s Sulu Is Gay
Some cool news about this summer’s Star Trek Beyond, via the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun: They report that Beyond will reveal that John Cho’s Hikaru Sulu is gay. The character is also revealed to be “the loving father of a daughter with a same sex partner. And in typical trailblazing Trek fashion - it’s just not a big deal.” At least the daughter aspect fits with what little the previous Star Trek series showed of Sulu’s private life; in 1994’s Star Trek Generations, Sulu’s daughter, Ensign Demora Sulu, serves as the helmsman on the Enterprise-B.
The decision to reveal Sulu’s sexual orientation was made by writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin as “a nod to” George Takei, who originated the role of Sulu on the original Star Trek TV series and in six subsequent films. Takei is gay but had to keep his sexuality a secret for decades or risk losing his career in Hollywood. (For more on Takei’s life story and his current LGBTQ activism, check out the documentary To Be Takei, which is currently streaming on Netflix.)
This was Cho’s comment on the news to the Herald Sun:
“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.”
Star Trek, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, has a history of promoting equality; the show’s original cast was unusually diverse for its era and featured the first interracial kiss on U.S. television in the 1968 episode “Plato’s Stepchildren.” The franchise’s record on LGBTQ issues hasn’t been as strong; Cho’s Sulu will be the films’ first openly gay character. The vision of Star Trek is a hopeful future where people of all races, religions, sexual orientations, and planetary origins work together to build a better universe. This move is a fitting tribute to Takei and it takes us one step closer to that ideal. Star Trek Beyond opens in theaters on July 22.