George Takei did not want “Star Trek Beyond's” Sulu to be gay?
Oh my. While news broke today that “Star Trek Beyond” will feature an openly gay Hikaru Sulu in a nod to original Sulu actor George Takei, it turns out Takei was never actually on board with this development.
To be clear, the long-time LGBT activist is of course pleased that the “Star Trek” universe is finally expanding to feature a prominent gay character aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise (or on any Starfleet ship, really). His objection is that this gay character is Sulu.
As revealed by The Hollywood Reporter, when Takei first learned about Sulu’s same-sex relationship from John Cho (who plays Sulu in the current “Star Trek” series of films), he tried to convince him that it would be better if a new gay character be created instead.
In fact, he was so steadfast in this belief that when director Justin Lin later confirmed to him that Sulu was indeed gay in “Star Trek Beyond,” he reiterated this desire that they create a new character for the film instead.
This is because rather than having Sulu’s family situation be an homage to him, Takei would prefer the new film honor creator Gene Roddenberry’s original vision, especially on the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek.”
“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.”
According to Takei, Roddenberry’s Sulu was always heterosexual, even if Sulu’s sexual orientation was never directly addressed during the series with an on-screen love interest.
Takei also revealed that he had approached Roddenberry about addressing LGBT issues during the original series but that the “Star Trek” creator, while a “a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” already felt he was pushing too many boundaries with allegories to the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam war in the show.
Takei’s objection to “Star Trek Beyond’s” Sulu being gay, of course, mirrors the uproar often heard when beloved characters of established franchises are reimagined for various updates and reboots (just look at the backlash against the upcoming “Ghostbusters”).
Granted, Takei’s comments do make it a little strange that this update to Sulu was touted as an homage to the actor.
“Star Trek Beyond” hits theaters July 22.