As we revealed previously, Star Trek Discovery is getting the very first originally gay character in the series – Starfleet science officer Lt. Stamets
Of course, the long running character Sulu was gay in the latest Star Trek film, Star Trek Beyond, but this was a major change to his character. When this first became public knowledge, George Takei (who played Sulu in the original series) was heavily critical of the move.
George was asked about his thoughts on the new gay character, who will be played by Anthony Rapp, while attending the Unforgettable Gala on Saturday.
He said: “When I was informed they were making Sulu gay, I said, ‘It’s wonderful that they can deal with the gay issue. But honor Gene. It’s not about me. It’s about Gene’s vision and respect him and respect the characters that he created.’”
“But be as imaginative and creative as Gene was. Create a new character and make him or her gay with the issues he or she might have to deal with in the 23rd century. That would be exciting. That would be paying tribute. I wasn’t persuasive and they made Sulu gay. They said it was a tribute to me, so I appreciate that part. But now Gene is really going to be honored by Star Trek: Discovery by having that original character, played by a wonderfully talented actor. I think it is the way it should’ve been done.”
George did touch on how he tried to get Gene to include a gay character in the original show, but at the time Gene was walking a very fine line and audiences back then wouldn’t have been ready for it. Of course, Star Trek had one of the first interracial kisses on TV, which hugely rocked the boat at the time.
On this, George said “Gene created all of the characters as straight characters. Because of the times, it could be not be on the air if you have a gay character. In fact, we had one episode where the white captain, Kirk, kissed the black Uhura, and that show was blacked out — literally blacked out — in the Southern areas. Stations in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia refused to air it. We hit rock bottom.”
“I was lobbying Gene to do an episode that deals with LGBT issues and equality. He said, ‘I’m aware of that and I support that but I’m walking a tightrope. I can’t step a little too far or the show will be canceled.’ But those days are past. ”
Agree or disagree with the decision to change such a major character like Sulu, it’s pretty clear that the inclusion of Lt. Stamets is a true honouring of Gene’s vision. It’s a shame that we had to wait so long to get it, but late is definitely better than never.