Despite nearly a thousand episodes of television, twelve films, and a central premise all about promoting tolerance and inclusion, the lack of LGBT characters in “Star Trek” has long been an eyesore for the franchise.
Episodes of the various series have made allusions or heavy-handed metaphors to it, most notably the famed ‘Next Generation’ episode “The Outcast,” but what many gay Trek fans have long wanted has eluded them – until now. Justin Lin’s “Star Trek Beyond” has finally introduced a gay lead “Star Trek” character – Hikaru Sulu (John Cho).
Early on in the film, the crew is seen arriving at a space station for some R&R. As we see the crew members departing the terminal, we see Sulu (who had been carrying around a picture of his daughter) being greeted by his daughter and long-term male partner before the daughter gets picked up in one arm by Sulu. His other arm wraps around the waist of his partner as this little family heads off – all the while Kirk (Chris Pine) looks on smiling.
It’s a dialogue free, few second long scene but handles the Enterprise helmsman’s sexuality status the right way – in a brief, casual, universal moment of positive acceptance. Cho, currently in Australia to promote the film, talked about the reveal with The Herald Sun: “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one’s personal orientations.”
Though the character in the original TV series was depicted as having a daughter, he was never seen in a relationship be it gay or straight. The inclusion here was likely inspired by openly actor George Takei who played the role in the original and then came out of the closet decades later in 2005.