Sulu is Gay in the New Star Trek Films and George Takei is Unhappy

Weeks before the new Star Trek Beyond motion picture saw its recent release, actor John Cho publicly revealed that his character in the film, Hikaru Sulu, would be revealed to be involved in a same-sex relationship and raising a child.

Cho has also revealed that an on-screen kiss was filmed between his Sulu character with Sulu’s partner, but the scene never made the final cut in the end.

The film has enjoyed good public word of mouth and, in its early run, is considered to be a success.

However, Cho’s revelation has not been the only pre-release controversy, or heartache-inducing tragedy, attached to the film.

27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin, who portrays fan favorite Star Trek character Pavel Chekov, passed away on June 19, 2016 after being crushed by his own car in a freak accident in his own driveway. The film is dedicated to the late, young actor.

Another controversy connected to the new Star Trek Beyond film, directed by Justin Lin who is well known for his work directing entries in the Fast & Furious film franchise, should probably be taken about only as seriously as one would allow, has also garnered attention from mainstream media.

79-year-old actor George Takei, who publicly outed himself as a gay man and LGBT advocate in 2005 and portrayed Sulu in the Shatner-starring Star Trek TV shows and subsequent films, has publicly taken issue with the J.J. Abrams-rebooted Star Trek film version of Sulu being portrayed as a gay man. In fact, his initial public response to the news was to state that, “I think it’s really unfortunate.”

George Takei was good friends with the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, who Takei stated envisioned Sulu as a heterosexual character. Takei views himself as a self-styled custodian of the character, which he unquestionably helped to create, and has stated to public outlets like People magazine, among others, that he wished the creators of the rebooted Star Trek films had just created a new, gay Star Trek character.

Takei and Cho also publicly revealed that Cho called Takei over a year ago to inform him of the change to character.

The film was written by comedian and actor Simon Pegg, who also portrays Montgomery Scott in the rebooted franchise. Pegg and Cho have stated that while they respect Takei’s view, they felt that creating a token gay character for its own sake would have defeated its own purpose.

The new Star Trek universe was rebooted in film form by J.J. Abrams in 2009. It is an alternate timeline version of the original Gene Roddenberry series and movie featuring the same characters. In fact, this new universe is referred upon by Trekkies, or zealously faithful fans, as the, “Kelvin Timeline Universe,” to differentiate it from the Roddenberry original.

Cho and Pegg believe that it is more important to create roles that represent the great diversity of our society. Cho’s Sulu was not made to be a gay character for its own sake, as a token character would be, but to show that whether you are straight, gay, heterosexual, transgender or some alien being, you can be portrayed as heroic, human or fragile. And not as just the sassy comic relief, the BFF or histrionic hot mess caricature.

Cho and Pegg believe that Sulu, as he exists in the new Kelvin Timeline universe, represents a cultural progression in what Roddenberry tried to achieve in a much more oppressive, conservative and racially hostile time.

Takei has since walked back his comments.

In the end, it may be much ado about nothing.

It is infinitely much easier for people to talk about the sexual identity of an admittedly fan-favorite character and how to respect that character than to talk about respecting the lives of real, tangible people who proudly identify themselves as LGBT.

You risk your life if you go to a LGBT-friendly establishment.

It doesn’t matter if Sulu is gay.

What do you think of such people who live in reality?

How are they perceived? How do they live? Are they second class citizen? Should the continued existence of their live be arbitrarily chosen because of hatred for an identity no one chooses but are proud to be born into?

There is so much more to life than this, more important things to debate.

But yes, Sulu is gay.

And George Takei seems to be the only person who cares enough to state his problem with it.

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