News broke on July 7 that Sulu (John Cho) in the rebooted “Star Trek” franchise series of movies would be revealed as gay in the upcoming “Beyond” installment.
George Takei, who played Sulu for the original TV series and subsequent series of movies, said at the time that he thinks the move is “unfortunate” — not because there shouldn’t be LGBTQ representation in the “Star Trek” universe, but because it’s a “twisting of [writer Gene Roddenberry’s] creation” and he wishes the franchise had instead invented an entirely new character to represent the gay community.
Now in a Facebook post, Takei has clarified and expanded upon his original comments, saying he could not be more thrilled to know there will be LGBTQ representation in “Star Trek Beyond.”
“I am not disappointed that there is a gay character in ‘Star Trek.’ On the contrary, as I made clear, I am delighted that the ‘Star Trek’ franchise has addressed this issue, which is truly one of diversity. It is thrilling to know that future generations will not see LGBTs go wholly unrepresented in the ‘Trek’ universe,” he writes.
However, he maintains his position that he wishes writer Simon Pegg had gone about the move differently, saying that when he was approached about the concept of Sulu being gay, he said he hoped “Gene Roddenberry’s original characters and their backgrounds would be respected.”
“How exciting it would be instead if a new hero might be created, whose story could be fleshed out from scratch, rather than reinvented. To me, this would have been even more impactful. While I understand that we are in an alternate timeline with the new ‘Trek’ movies, for me it seemed less than necessary to tinker with an existing character in order to fulfill Gene’s hope of a truly diverse ‘Trek’ universe. And while I am flattered that the character of Sulu apparently was selected as an homage to me, this was never about me or what I wanted. It was about being true to Gene’s vision and storytelling.”
Takei goes on to say that he and Roddenberry spoke long ago about including gay characters in “Star Trek,” but that the creator “understandably felt constrained by the sensitivities of the time.”
“The lack of gay characters was not some oversight by him; it was a conscious decision with which he grappled. I loved Gene as a friend, and I respected his decision and the context under which he created these stories. On this 50th year anniversary of ‘Star Trek,’ my hope was to honor his foresight and bravery, as well as his ability to create discussion and diversity despite these constraints.”
But Takei ends by congratulating Simon Pegg “on his daring and groundbreaking storytelling.”
“While I would have gone with the development of a new character in this instance, I do fully understand and appreciate what they are doing — as ever, boldly going where no one has gone before. ‘Star Trek’ will live long and prosper.”