If you’ve been following us here on Nerdbastards, you’ve probably become aware that in the new movie Star Trek Beyond, the character Hikaru Sulu (as played by John Cho) is ‘coming out’ of the metaphorical closet with little fanfare. This was in hopes, by writer Simon Pegg (who also plays Montgomery “Scotty” Scott) to normalize gay characters in Star Trek; it was also intended to honor the character’s original actor George Takei, who is a gay man himself and huge advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. However, in a surprising twist, George Takei (respectfully) disapproved of the change. It did not take long for Simon Pegg to give Takei a response (also with a respectful tone). Now, Mr. Takei has responded back to the Star Trek writer, and he seems to have extended the hand of peace.
The response in question was posted on George Takei’s facebook page, on which he is famously active and open with his fans. His response was simply stated:
“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. On the specific question of Sulu being gay, when I was first approached with the concept, I responded that I hoped instead that Gene Roddenberry’s original characters and their backgrounds would be respected.”
Takei went on to mention that he simply wished they had invented a new character that was openly gay, rather than remix the characteristic into an already established and loved character from Gene Roddenberry’s original series. He also went on to mention how he and Gene had wanted to include gay characters into the original series, but it was simply not possible at the time due to unjust television standards and the opinions of the general populace, or in his own words, they were “constrained by sensitivities of the time” .
Despite continuing to disagree with the direction of the Sulu character, and again voicing that he wished a new character would have been created for the role of a gay Starfleet officer, a hand of peace and congratulations was offered to the Beyond team with his final remark in the post.
“But Star Trek has always pushed the boundaries and opened new opportunities for actors, including myself. I am eternally grateful to have been part of this incredible and continuing family. I wish John Cho well in the role I once played, and congratulate 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.”
While it seems that Simon and George will never come to an agreeance on this particular subject, they both understand the need for representation in mass media, and the important role Star Trek has, and will continue, to play in that regard. Why not let us know how you feel in the comments below? Star Trek Beyond will be hitting theaters on July 22nd.