‘Star Trek’ TV Boss Bryan Fuller Talks Gay Sulu Depiction in ‘Beyond’
Star Trek Beyond took an affirmative step toward LGBTQ representation with word that John Cho’s Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu would be depicted with a husband, though original portrayer George Takei had a surprisingly negative reaction to the nod toward his own sexuality. Now, leading the charge to put Trek back on TV with Star Trek: Discovery, Bryan Fuller weighs in on the “lovely move of inclusivity.”
Takei had called the decision to establish Sulu as a gay character (as opposed to creating a new one) “really unfortunate,” noting that regardless of his own advancement of LGBTQ visibility, creator Gene Roddenberry hadn’t intended the character as such. Controversy moved to the point where Beyond writer/star Simon Pegg respectfully disagreed with Takei’s response, while The Hollywood Reporter had a chance to ask Bryan Fuller for his thoughts at Comic-Con 2016:
I think when you’re an actor, you’re playing a role from a specific direction. It is that interpretation that you worked with, with the creator of the show, that has been cemented in your mind. So I think [George Takei] is absolutely entitled to feel that way, because I absolutely understand why he feels that way … I think the bigger picture is that we need gay representation. And the fact that they embraced that idea and made John Cho’s portrayal as Sulu a gay man was a lovely move of inclusivity.
Not only that, Fuller appreciated that Beyond’s change to Sulu’s sexuality promoted a positive view of the spectrum:
With the science-fiction extrapolation of one universe to the other and the fluidity of sexuality, it feels like there’s an explanation that both of those things exist. Because George Takei’s Sulu in the prime universe is a heterosexual man, and John Cho’s Sulu in the Kelvin universe is a homosexual man, it proves that sexuality is not a solid-state situation.
Fuller (who himself is also gay) made a hardline push during the Comic-Con 2016 panel for Star Trek to continue advancing the boundaries of hope and representation, saying:
Individuality should be celebrated. Star Trek celebrates diversity. It seems like a great statement from [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry, who felt the human race just has to get along …The new series has to remind audiences the message of Star Trek — continuing to push boundaries … We do have to celebrate a progression of our species because right now we need a little help.
In the meantime, Star Trek Beyond hit number one at the box office this past weekend, while Fuller’s Star Trek: Discovery is slated for a January 2017 launch.
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