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To Boldly Go

J.J. Abrams Wants to Put an (Out) Gay Character in Star Trek 2 If He Can


LGBT characters have been at the forefront of more and more science fiction shows in recent years–Stargate Universe, Caprica, and, of course, Torchwood being among the most popular. But what about Star Trek? Star Trek has long been used by its writers to touch on ongoing social and political issues in our society, but so far there have been no gay characters on the show. So could J.J. Abrams be responsible for the first?

Abrams, who admitted long ago to never having really considered himself a Trekkie, said in an interview with AfterElton that he was surprised at the lack of gay characters in past incarnations of the series:

“You know what’s funny? As someone who was never a huge Star Trek fan and I didn’t watch the shows. And my experience with the movie was the first in the series and then watching and re-watching some of the movies that I’ve seen. I’m frankly shocked that in the history of Star Trek there have never been gay characters in all the series. In Deep Space Nine and all the Enterprises that that’s never come up.”

On the possibility that such a character would actually happen in the next Star Trek film, however, writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman said that they have no current plans to include a gay character, and Abrams pretty much said the same–But that doesn’t necessarily seal the deal either way. Abrams clarified, saying that he wouldn’t want to in such a way that the audience would  ”feel like why am I getting into that kind of detail about the character’s life if not just to make a point of it?”

“There are many people who say there have been gay characters in the show all throughout. [laughs] I would say that it is, you know, something that I would love to do, but just the way I would be careful doing a story that would involve any of the characters and their personal lives. The balance is always, what how does that story relate to sort of the bad guy, which by the way is always going to be that critical thing, what are they up against? The question how do you get into literally these are personal sexual lives of these characters? Like what is that going to be about. I don’t know who’s assuming characters aren’t gay or are gay. You know what I’m saying?”

Uh… funny you should ask.

“So the answer is,” he said, “I think it should be done, and I’d love to be able to do it. And the question is once we get through the bigger issues of certain structural things that are really the key to the show or the movie being done well.”

Well, okay, fair enough. The script for the Star Trek sequel is still very much in the works–and the June 2012 release date pushed back–so from this point pretty much anything is possible. To see more of what Abrams had to say about the issue, we highly suggest you go over and read the full interview at AfterElton.

(After Elton via Blastr)

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  • http://twitter.com/acidragdoll Bel

    Well, they seemed to have enough time to dig into Kirk, Spock and Uhura’s sex life, I’m sure they could find some way to make it relevant…

  • http://fempop.com Alexandra Hinton

    Except for the really touching lesbian affair in that one Deep Space Nine episode. I guess he missed that.

  • http://twitter.com/textbkleftovers Textbook Leftovers

    I agree wholly with this goal, but I have to say that I have always thought that there was just no evidence of most characters’ sexuality in the series. I am no expert, but mostly there isn’t much made of their sex lives. And I am certain that LGBTQ persons would be perfectly welcome in the ST universe. (It’s certainly always been an undercurrent in the fandom.) So, IMO, it’s not so much a discussion about whether any characters are/have been LGBTQ – it’s about the producers/etc deciding to reference that. And really, how hard would it be to just show two males holding hands or something. Making it into a Big Deal would be awkward and not fit into that universe at all. It should just be a part of the background because it’s just a part of how life is. They never have to make a big deal about a toilet because we all know it’s just part of life. We shouldn’t need to make a big deal about sexuality because whether some people like it or not, it IS part of life.
    (Unless they want to make a bold statement about how “people of the future are mature adults and realize its okay for a man to love another man.” Which is okay with me, but it just … doesn’t seem to work in my head.)

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s problematic to say that “there isn’t much made of their sex lives.”  I understand the view point, because *sex* isn’t often a big deal in ST, but there are numerous subplots in each series that repeatedly assume a heteronormative paradigm, and I have yet to see an episode (aside from the aforementioned DS9 ep) that challenges that assumption. 

    I think you’re spot on, though, about not making it a Big Deal.  In fact, I think showing two dudes holding hands–or flirting in the cafeteria or whatever–would make an even bigger statement: the ST universe is SO accepting, LGBTQ people are SO universally welcome, that it’s not even an issue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002188005079 Feklar Fourtytwo

    I gues Dax didn’t count either, being bisexual (in all ways)…

  • Nick Gaston

    They could have Number One (from “The Cage”) be assigned to the Enterprise, and end up seducing an alien princess for…I dunno, getting the keys to a cell on a diplomatic mission while teaching them about the nature of humanity. Those are pretty much all the TOS reasons for seducing someone, right?

    And of course, to head off any suggestion that this is just for cheap titillation, the alien princess will bear a suspicious resemblance to the Cloverfield Monster. With a bouffant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=510195023 Yasmin Hafiz

    “Au contraire, mon capitan!”

    There is so much LGBT subtext in the ST Universe that I’m surprised JJ Abrams has missed it. As already mentioned, Dax’s character history subverts gender and sexual norms as she simultaneously embodies the memories and emotions of all of Dax’s hosts, and isn’t shy about acting on her feelings regarding other characters. The AU storylines in DS9 include a lesbian Kira, there was an alien species in an episode of Enterprise which required three genders for procreation and centred on the attempted liberation of the intersex character.

    There’s no doubt that a lot of LGBTQ characters and situations arise through alien contact or forced possession (Kes in Voyager comes to mind) but the ST Universe has quietly demostrated widespread acceptance for many years.

  • http://roseeclipse.livejournal.com/ Rose Jones

    I have to agree with you on the first point. Even in the stricter TV-times of the 60′s, there was a lot of subtext on Star Trek. Looking back I’m surprised at how much sexual tension was under the roof and all the flimsy alien costumes and miniskirts definitely leave a lot to the imagination! Whatever JJ does, I hope it’s not just to please the fans because other blockbuster films have flopped from trying to cram too many demands and requests into one movie (“Spiderman 3″ anyone?)

  • http://twitter.com/textbkleftovers Textbook Leftovers

    That’s kindof what I was going for, guess I just expressed it badly.
    I know of a couple episodes where a (heterosexual) relationship was a main point of the story. The only one I have seen (admittedly very few out of the many many different incarnations of the show) that touches on the subject is the TNG episode with the forcibly gender-neutral society. (LSS: many of the people of that society feel “gendered” and are oppressed for it. A “female” one has a semi-relationship with Riker.) It’s an interesting flip of the situation we have.

    “In fact, I think showing two dudes holding hands–or flirting in the
    cafeteria or whatever–would make an even bigger statement: the ST
    universe is SO accepting, LGBTQ people are SO universally welcome, that
    it’s not even an issue.” — This is EXACTLY what I mean. Kudos.