There is an issue that has been of great importance to a lot of Star Trek fans for a very long time, that has finally been addressed and it feels right that it’s been taken care of in the 50th Anniversary year.
At the Australian premier of Star Trek Beyond in Sydney last night (the 7th of July 2016), John Cho, in an interview with the Herald Sun, gave away a pretty huge spoiler.
If you don’t want to know… don’t read on.
As some of you know by now, Sulu – like his Prime timeline character – has a daughter. We see her in a photo during the course of the latest adventure.
What we didn’t know, until John told us last night, was that Sulu’s daughter (presumably Demora Sulu) has two dads.
That’s right. Hikaru Sulu is gay (or bisexual).
To read more about this revelation, and reflections from John, Chris Pine, Justin Lin, Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto on the loss of their friend Anton Yelchin, click here to jump to the Herald Sun article (by Australian journalist James Wigney).
The move to make Sulu gay was to honour all of the Star Trek fans who have been asking for a gay character for way too many years, and it was done in an attempt to honour the legendary George Takei who first played Sulu in the original series and the following six films (and the odd fan production).
George, however, has said he asked the Beyond team to reconsider their decision.
Though George is probably the most famous face consistently advocating for the QUILTBAG (Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Asexual and/or Gay) community, he reportedly asked everyone to abandon the idea.
He didn’t make this request because he’d suddenly changed his mind about his sexuality, or his desire to see a gay character on Star Trek. George made the request because he thought tinkering with Sulu would mess with the character Gene created.
As George explained to The Hollywood Reporter, “I’m delighted there’s a gay character… unfortunately, it’s (making Sulu gay) a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
In his conversations with the Beyond team, George was adamant there should be a gay character in the third movie set in the Kelvin timeline, but suggested they create a new character and make him a big part of the film, and avoid using an established character that had 50 years’ worth of other people’s perceptions connected to him.
To read more, visit the article online at The Hollywood Reporter here.
A lot of discussion has happened online since the revelation, with most of it being in support of Sulu’s “coming out”. The discussion, interestingly, has been around attempting to confirm whether or not Sulu ever mentioned having a wife or a girlfriend.
To the best of most fans’ memories, he never did (except for in the non-canonical novels and comics).
The fact that this revelation did not interfere with canon seems to have satisfied most people.
George has a point, but Simon Pegg, who also recently addressed this addition to Sulu’s character, also has a point when he says (via io9) here, that he doesn’t “…believe Gene Roddenberry’s decision to make the prime timeline’s Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one, more a necessity of the time. Trek rightly gets a lot of love for featuring the first interracial kiss on US television, but ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’ was the lowest rated episode ever.”
What’s interesting is that last year in an article I posted here, George suggested that Gene didn’t have a gay character in the crew, and hadn’t put a spotlight on gay issues, because he knew ‘they’d’ take his show off the air. ‘They’ being the censors.
I have a sneaking suspicion Gene would have been okay with what Simon, Doug and Justin have done, and I know he’d love George for asking this question, and taking a stand for the characters Gene created 50 years ago.
Sadly, we’ll never really know how Gene feels about this deepening of Sulu’s character, but one thing I do know for certain is that no one went and did this with the intention of purposefully dishonouring Gene’s creation.
On a side note, why Sulu? Every other character in the original series was shown chasing or having feelings for a member of the opposite sex – all of them, Kirk, Uhura, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Chapel and Rand. Everyone except Sulu (although evil Sulu in “Mirror, Mirror” was shown to have a less than polite interest in Uhura).
Star Trek Beyond was written by Simon Pegg and Greg Jung, and directed by Justin Lin.
The film stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho and the late Anton Yelchin.
Star Trek Beyond is in the process of opening in various locations around the world. Hopefully, everyone who sees it loves it and either likes, or at the very least respects, this revelation about Sulu.