Star Trek has always been about promoting diversity and accepting people for who they are, so, when Simon Pegg revealed that Hikaru Sulu would come out as gay in Star Trek Beyond, it seemed like a choice in line with what creator Gene Roddenberry had always planned for Star Trek. The move was motivated by a desire to pay tribute to George Takei, who came out in 2005 as gay and who portrayed Sulu in the original Star Trek series and feature films, as much as it was a move to introduce the franchise’s first openly gay character, but Takei wasn’t impressed.
George Takei Isn’t On Board With The New Direction For Hikaru Sulu In Star Trek Beyond
George Takei reveals two very important reasons for his opposition to a gay Sulu in Star Trek Beyond, reports the Hollywood Reporter. First, and more importantly to Takei and to loyal Star Trek traditionalists, making Hikaru Sulu a gay character was not something the Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, was open to in the first place. The original series was in its third season and had tackled numerous controversial issues, so Roddenberry was against stirring up anymore hard social issues that might risk the future of the series, even though he was respectful and supportive of the 60s gay movement, says Takei.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” the original Hikaru Sulu says. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Additionally, making Sulu gay in a Star Trek timeline that predates the events of the original Star Trek series implies that Sulu has been openly gay and married with a child, only to later find himself in a position where his sexuality was a source of embarrassment. Takei says this doesn’t make sense, especially for the more enlightened 23rd century in which Star Trek takes place. Instead, George had hoped to convince the Star Trek Beyond production team to introduce a new gay character and leave the Sulu character alone.
“I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.’ “
Star Trek Beyond Kept Their Gay Sulu In Spite Of George Takei’s Protests
Rolling Stone reports that Simon Pegg and Zachary Quinto, who is an openly gay actor, have since responded to George Takei’s criticism of the decision to make Sulu gay in Star Trek Beyond. Simon Pegg was the first to take Takei’s words to heart, probably because, in addition to playing Star Trek Beyond‘s Scotty, he also co-wrote the story for the film and had direct involvement in the decision to make Sulu a gay character. In reacting to George’s comments, Simon says he thinks Gene Roddenberry would have been supportive of the idea to create a gay story arc for Sulu.
“I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humor are an inspiration,” Pegg responded. “However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.”
Of course, the old standby excuse created by J.J. Abrams with the first rebooted film in the franchise is that this story arc, like the previous films, exists in an alternate timeline.
“Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details,” the Star Trek Beyond co-writer 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).”
Like George, Zachary Quinto is an openly gay actor and takes pride in his involvement with the LGBT community, so it’s understandable that Quinto was hurt by Takei’s disapproval. Even in his dealings with the late Leonard Nimoy, Zachary has always seemed the most eager for approval and acceptance by the original Star Trek cast, so the emotion of his reaction can be felt in his words.
“As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed,” says Star Trek Beyond‘s Quinto. “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 will warp into theaters on July 22.
[Image by CBS]