Takei “Disappointed” in Gay Sulu

With all due respect to George Takei, whom we can all agree is awesome, I think the revelation that Hikaru Sulu is gay in the soon-to-be-released film Star Trek: Beyond is a fine thing.

Screenwriter and Scotty portrayer Simon Pegg says that it was done as an homage to Takei, who is openly gay, but Takei says he’s disappointed in the choice to take a character who has always been straight and suddenly make him gay 50 years after he was introduced in the original series. He says it’s against the vision of creator George Roddenberry.

Takei may have something there; after all, no one involved in the film reboot of the original series has had the benefit of knowing and working with Roddenberry. That said, I think if Roddenberry were alive today, he may well have approved.


(clockwise from top left) George Takei as Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek, the original television series, John Cho as Sulu in the latest Star Trek motion picture series, Zachary Quinto as the latest Spock, and Simon Pegg as Montgomery Scott, the chief engineer on the starship Enterprise. Pegg also wrote the screenplay for the latest film.

Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock in the franchise had this to say, as reported on Towleroad:

I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed. Any member of the LGBT community that takes issue with the normalized and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema…I get it that he has had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character but, you know, as we established in the first ‘Star Trek’ film in 2009, we’ve created an alternate universe, and my hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be.

Quinto’s remarks buttress Pegg’s in The Guardian:

He’s right, it is unfortunate, 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 have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. 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 just hasn’t come up before.

Pegg continued, saying:

The viewing audience weren’t open minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have. Roddenberry was a visionary and a pioneer but we choose our battles carefully.

And he ended the interview with a sentiment that, I believe, we can all agree with:

Whatever dimension we inhabit, we all just want to be loved by those we love (and I love George Takei). I can’t speak for every reality but that must surely true of this one. Live long and prosper.

For Trek geeks, I think the point that the TOS (the original series) timeline and the Kelvin (movie reboot) timelines are different and therefore the canon is different. For folks pushing for inclusion, I can’t imagine a better universe to do that in than Star Trek. Except, perhaps, for our own.

Somewhat Related Post from 2013: Here

Oh, Myyy — Takei, Quinto, and I, Borg: A Long Journey into the Gay Recesses of Deep Space and the Soul

This is a terrific quote by gay icon and social media zeitmeister George Takei. This jump takes you to the Backlot, but it’s source is really the Huffington Post.


Takei on Star Trek: TOS, before he charted a course for icon staus.

“Some of the cast and creatives were aware that I was gay, and I did, on occasion, bring a male date to parties. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry was aware of my sexual orientation and very supportive. That was the extraordinary thing about Star Trek. That we were a diverse crew of people representing so many colors, backgrounds and heritages. That was the promise of the future. And, now, in the J.J. Abrams reboot, an openly gay actor is playing a Vulcan in love with an African American. I’m not really surprised by this. Star Trek taught us to look ahead to a time where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s dream was fulfilled. Being a part of that vision was — and has remained — a tremendous honor.”

via Meme: Gene Roddenberry Knew George Takei Was Gay During “Star Trek,” Justice Kennedy Denies Motion On Prop 8 Stay, Putin Signs Gay Propaganda Law – thebacklot.com.

And, ultimately, that’s why I’ve always loved Star Trek. The deep understanding of humanity that Roddenberry infused the series with was so important in effecting change in our culture over time. It’s place in the cultural landscape of the Western world cannot be ignored — even if you don’t give a crap about stories of space cowboys and turtle-headed aliens.

(And we won’t even get into the stories about the ST geeks who developed flip-phone and Bluetooth earpieces because they designed them to look like tricorders and Uhura’s audio receiver. [“Captain, I’m receiving a subspace transmission from the Vulcan High Command. It’s a distress call!”])


Great photo of Del Arco, which prompts a remembrance of his iconic role as Hugh the Borg on ST:TNG and the fight for equality. (Seriously, if you don’t know what I’m taking about, just find the damn episode!)

All Trek fans have their personal favorite series. Mine was Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG). It was clunky and, frankly, downright bad for the first couple of seasons, but then it got extremely good.  My favorite TNG episode of all time was one called, “I, Borg” (here’s a clip) about a Borg becoming it’s own entity (you have to know what the Borg are, but go with it). It was a breathtaking, beautiful story about the importance of being different, of standing apart from the collective, of saying that there is difference and there should be acceptance.


Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. Their “deep space bromance” is chronicled in OUT magazine. There is obviously a high hotness score required to get into Starfleet Academy these days!

The singular Borg was played by a marvelous actor named Jonathan Del Arco. He’s an out gay man who is a passionate LGBT activist as well as an actor. Catch him on TNT’s terrific Major Crimes as Dr. Morales.

That’s a long way around the track to get to the point, which is shown so beautifully in the photograph at right. We have gone through so much to get to a world here today’s Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock look like this. Their on-and-off-screen “bromance” is chronicled in a great article in OUT magazine.  In the article, Zachary Quinto talks about how intelligent Chris Pine is and how he infuses all of his characterizations with that intelligence. And, ultimately, that’s why I think Pine’s so damn sexy. I mean, the abs are nothing to sneeze at, but ya gotta have a brain! Oh, myyy, indeed!

Oh, Myyyy! George Takei Surprises Teen on Anderson Live.

There’s just nothing about this that I don’t love! Watch the clip.

Anderson Cooper had a special surprise for the New Jersey teen whose impassioned coming out speech at a high school ceremony made him a viral video superstar.

Eighteen-year-old Jacob Rudolph, who identified himself as LGBT while accepting an award for class actor in front of his graduating class, told Cooper that “Star Trek” actor George Takei was his idol.

Fortunately for Rudolph, Takei was waiting backstage. Watch the clip to see what happened!

via Jacob Rudolph, LGBT New Jersey Teen, Meets George Takei On ‘Anderson Live’.