In a bit of surprising news, George Takei is not thrilled that Sulu will be a gay man in Star Trek Beyond.
A scene in Star Trek Beyond features Sulu with a male spouse and infant son.
“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he said. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisted [version] of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
Takei would have preferred that Simon Pegg create a new gay character instead of making an established one gay. “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,'” said Takei.
“This movie is going to be coming out on the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek, the fiftieth anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century,” said Takei to Justin Lin, after Lin informed him about Sulu’s sexuality. “Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen.”
But an email from John Cho revealed that Pegg and Lin had not changed their minds on the matter. “I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed,” said Takei. “I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen.”
Pegg defended his decision to make Sulu gay. “I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humor are an inspiration,” he said. “However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.
“It’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”
“Justin Lin, Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience has a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice,” Pegg added. “Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic. Also, the audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning (at least in the Kelvin timeline), that a gay hero isn’t something new or strange. It’s also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted, why would he need to be? It’s just hasn’t come up before.
“Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. 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.”