Star Trek actor John Cho recently revealed that Sulu, the character he plays in the reboot of the sci-fi series, will come out as gay in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. The revelation is in part an homage to original Sulu portrayer George Takei, who himself came out in 2005.
However, although the altering of the character was penned as a tribute to Takei, the actor has stated that he wishes that the reboot hadn’t taken liberties with the character painstakingly conceived by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.” Although Roddenberry was “a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” he envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.
Despite not receiving Takei’s approval, actor and Trekkie Simon Pegg, who co-wrote Star Trek Beyond and ultimately had a hand in Sulu coming out in the reboot, defended the revision to the Star Trek universe.
“I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humor are an inspiration,” Pegg wrote to The Guardian. “However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.”
Pegg added that Roddenberry would have allowed for some flexibility of the Star Trek mythology, especially if it meant including the LGBT community in the final frontier.
“Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details,” Pegg added. “Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere. Whatever dimension we inhabit, we all just want to be loved by those we love (and I love George Takei).”
Actor Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock in the reboot and is openly gay, also applauded the addition of a gay character to the storyline while similarly expressing disappointment that Takei wasn’t onboard with the tribute.
“As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed,” Quinto told Pedestrian.tv. “I think any member of the LGBT community that takes issue with the normalized and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema.”
Star Trek Beyond opens July 22nd.