Fans of the Star Trek franchise recently learned that “Star Trek: Beyond,” the latest installment in the reboot series by J. J. Abrams, will feature a storyline involving the homosexual orientation of Enterprise helmsman Sulu. The reaction to this development has been mixed, and now George Takei, who played Sulu in the original television and movie series, is weighing in on the debate.
While Takei himself is gay and has become known in his later years as an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights, he is not pleased with the turn his character has taken. While he loves the thought of having an openly gay Star Trek character, he does not believe that changing the orientation of an existing character is the way to go about it.
It was Takei himself who inspired the change, albeit indirectly. Simon Pegg, who plays feisty engineer Scotty, led the charge to make Sulu gay as a tribute to Takei. While Takei appreciates the attempt at an homage, he does not believe that this honors Gene Roddenberry’s legacy, especially in light of the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.
Roddenberry did his best to support diversity in whatever way he could, but networks limited his ability to do that. While the new movie does not over-emphasize Sulu’s sexual orientation, Takei nonetheless feels that the series would be better served by the creation of a new character who addresses these issues. It remains to be seen whether his reaction will change when he sees the actual movie.