Thursday, July 7, 2016

Star Trek Into Gayness!

You might be able to make out Cho as
Sulu amidst all the explosions and lens flare.
Hey, get this: Sulu from Star Trek is gay. Huh? Whatta ya mean 'duh'? You think I'm talking about gay icon and original Sulu actor George Takei, don't you? You didn't even click on the link even though I spent seconds, literally seconds putting it up there, did you? Because if you did, you'd know I was talking about John Cho's version of Sulu in the re-boot movies who's apparently gay. Huh, who knew? Well, nobody except maybe screenwriter Simon Pegg who just wrote it into the new movie.

What? Wesley got kidnapped, stabbed
 by pig soldiers and sentenced to death
by nudists and that was just season one.
In an interview with Australia's Herald Sun, Cho mentioned that Star Trek Beyond will matter-of-factly establish that Sulu has a husband and daughter.

"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 family will presumably be back home on Earth and not on the ship. I mean, because only a lunatic would endanger their own family by bringing them into space with them, right Dr. Crusher?

Turns out trekkies are into kink...
Anyway, after fifty years, thirteen movies and like 726 episodes, there's an actual gay Star Trek character. Doesn't sound right does it? But go on, access your encyclopedic knowledge of trekdom and try to come up with a single example of a gay character in all of Star Trek. Oh, and if you say Neelix, I'll slap you. Give up? Good, because alt-universe Sulu is it. Yeah, Riker once fell in love with an androgynous alien (who was played by a woman) and Dax from Deep Space 9 was a maybe bi but she ended up marrying Worf in some weird Klingon S&M wedding.

Wait, is there maybe some other
guy named George Takei?
So finally, right? Yes, but guess who's not onboard: George Takei. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Takei is delighted that there's a gay character, but called the move 'unfortunate' and feels that 'it's a twisting of [Roddenberry's) creation, to which he put in so much thought.' And last year he told Cho that he thought it would be better to '...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.'

Which, ok, no one ever said Sulu wasn't gay and even if Takei had been playing the character as straight, the new Trek movies take place in some kind of weird alternate timeline where Vulcans are almost extinct and Khan's a white English guy, so I don't really see the problem. On the other hand George Takei is George Takei damnit and since he played Sulu first, there is probably no one more qualified to have an opinion on this than he is.
"Damn right..."
-Captain Hikaru Sulu*
Maybe all the gay crew members
are in hanging out in the ship's gym?
Look, far be it from me to disagree with George Takei and as a big huge nerd, I do totally take his point about how they could have created a new character rather than retconning an existing one. I mean, just off-handedly mentioning that Sulu has been gay this whole time and has a husband and family and everything isn't the same thing as developing a gay character with a storyline and relationships over the course of a full series. And it certainly doesn't make up for fifty years of 'how comes there're no gay people in the future?' But revealing that a long established character is gay does carry some real weight. Like, this isn't some one-off ensign Jones who ends up getting murdered by some sentient cloud monster or a horta or something. This is Mr. Sulu and that's a big damn deal.

But hey, there's a new series coming next year and while details are excruciatingly scant, show runner Bryan Fuller recently and very noncommittally didn't completely not unsay that there wouldn't not be a gay character, so who knows?
"Who doesn't not know? Certainly it is not I who don'tn't."
-Bryan Fuller, maybe playing
things a little too close to the vest

*On the other, other hand, Sulu didn't officially get a first name until Star Trek VI, so how important the character's personal details were to Gene Roddenberry and his original creation is anyone's guess...

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