Star Trek has long been a franchise that pushes cultural barriers, and in the upcoming film, Star Trek Beyond, it’s poised to push past another with its first openly gay character. Mr. Hikaru Sulu, the helmsmen for the USS Enterprise, will be depicted as being gay, according to John Cho, who has portrayed the character in the rebooted film series.
The film will portray Sulu as being in a same-sex relationship and raising a daughter. Speaking to Australia’s Herald Sun, Cho noted that the filmmakers opted for a low-key approach. "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 politicize one’s personal orientations."
Sulu's personal life was never touched on in the original series, but the 1994 film Star Trek Generations introduced his daughter, Demora.
"I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out [of] it."
The move is a nod to the actor who originally portrayed Sulu, George Takei, who came out in 2005 and has been a dedicated activist for LGBTQ rights.
While this is a first for the franchises’ films and television shows, gay characters have appeared in some of the tie-in novels, such as 1998’s The Best and the Brightest by Susan Wright and 2001’s Section 31: Rogue by Andy Mangels and Michael A. Martin.
Star Trek Beyond hits theaters on July 22nd, 2016.