Earlier this week, Maddy wrote about queer-baiting and the unlikelihood that major franchises like Star Wars or the MCU will ever explicitly confirm fan-favorite LGBTQIA ships, instead leading queer fans on just enough to be perceived as progressive.
Thankfully, it seems like Star Trek Beyond might buck that trend. Speaking to Australia’s Herald Sun, John Cho revealed that his character in the film, Hikaru Sulu, is an out gay man raising a daughter with his partner. Cho explained, “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.”
According to Cho, Star Trek Beyond writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin decided to make Sulu gay in the film as a tribute to actor George Takei, who originated the role. Takei, an influential advocate for LGBTQIA rights, felt he had to be discreet about his orientation during his early career in order to find work. Although Takei’s sexuality was known by many in the Star Trek community by as early as the ’70s, the actor didn’t officially come out until a 2005 interview.
Surprisingly, Star Trek Beyond won’t be the first major blockbuster this summer to showcase a canon queer couple. Independence Day: Resurgence also depicted a relationship between two men, although the moments of affection between them were, literally, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it.
I hope that Star Trek Beyond will be bold enough to go farther than just confirming Sulu is gay, and also show us the relationship between him and his partner (and I’d like to meet Sulu’s daughter, too!). I agree with Cho that in some respects it shouldn’t be a “big thing” for Sulu to be queer, but if straight characters are allowed moments of emotional and physical intimacy, then Sulu and his baby daddy deserve that as well.
Sulu is the first canon gay character in the Star Trek film franchise.
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