Now that Star Trek is in it’s 50th year, it’d be easy to forget how groundbreaking and progressive the original series was at the time. In a world where black people were fighting for civil rights, Americans still bore resentment toward Japan, and Russia was seen as the greatest threat to the American way of life, Star Trek came along to show a future in which a black woman, a Japanese man, and a Russian navigator were all treated with equality and respect. The show constantly explored themes of prejudice, always promoting acceptance, and it even featured the first interracial kiss on American television only a year after interracial marriage was made legal. By today’s standards, these things may seem quaint, but they were hugely important at the time.
But even for all of Trek’s accomplishments in diversity, the series has still lacked any representation for queer people. That’s about to change.
In an interview with Australian publication, Herald Sun, John Cho reveals that Mr. Sulu will, in fact, be gay in the upcoming film Star Trek Beyond. And the best part? The movie treats it like it’s no big deal.
I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicise one’s personal orientations.
It’s a move befitting of Star Trek; one that posits that, 200 years from now, being gay will be so widely accepted as to be unremarkable. It’s also fitting that Sulu is the character who was chosen to bring gay representation into the world of Trek since George Takei has – in recent years – been such an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights. It feels right that the character he originated will finally bridge that gap.
It may be somewhat overdue, but this is still an important step forward for Trek. Hopefully future movies and the new Bryan Fuller series will continue this 50 year mission to bring infinite diversity in infinite combinations to our movie theaters and television screens.
Star Trek Beyond opens July 22.