Star Trek actor John Cho revealed that his character Hikaru Sulu will be revealed as gay in the upcoming film Star Trek Beyond. According to his interview with Australia's Herald Sun, the decision is a nod to the original Sulu and openly gay actor George Takei.
Sulu will be the first gay canonical character in the Star Trek franchise and will have a husband and a young daughter. "I liked the approach not to make a big thing out of it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one's personal orientations," Cho said in the interview.
Takei came out publicly in 2005, revealing that he had been in a relationship with his partner Brad Altman for 18 years at the time. His decision to come out to the public was motivated at the time by the then-turbulent issue of legalizing gay marriage as well as his role as psychologist Martin Dysart in the play Equus. Takei had played Sulu for three seasons and in six films beginning in 1966, having to keep closeted during the entire time.
Back in 2011, director J.J. Abrams teased the possibility of adding a gay character to the franchise during an interview with New Now Next. "It's one of those things I’ll bring up with the writers next time we meet," he said.
Adding a queer character to the famed supernatural franchise is the latest boundary-pushing step the typically progressive series has made. During its initial TV run, the show included one of television's most racially diverse casts at the time and also aired the first interracial kiss on television.