While promoting Star Trek Beyond in Sydney, it’s been confirmed that USS Enterprise helmsman Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu is, in fact, gay. That makes Sulu the first openly gay character in the storied franchise. And it took until 2016 to make that happen.
Sulu’s sexuality in the new film is an homage to actor and LGBT activist George Takei, who famously played Sulu in the 60s Star Trek series and the first six feature films in that franchise; Cho confirmed that writer Simon Pegg and Lin made the decision with Takei and changing social mores in mind:
“I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out [of] it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicise one’s personal orientations.”
Sulu’s sexuality is just as important as the appearance of African-American actor Nichelle Nichols starring in the prominent role of communications officer Lieutenant Uhura in the 60s series. This was the show that featured the first interracial kiss seen on TV, so it clearly has a long history of pushing social boundaries.
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