There has been a lot of talk around the decision to make Hikaru Sulu gay in Star Trek Beyond, and now it has been revealed that there was a gay kiss scene in the film that was cut from the final edit.
John Cho, who plays Sulu in the rebooted series, spoke about this in an interview with Vulture:“It wasn’t like a make-out session. We’re at the airport with our daughter. It was a welcome-home kiss. I’m actually proud of that scene, because it was pretty tough.”
“Obviously, I just met the kid, and then Doug is not an actor. I just wanted that to look convincingly intimate. We’re two straight guys and had to get to a very loving, intimate place. It was hard to do on the fly. We had to open up. It came off well, in my view.”
He also touched on the decision to make Sulu gay, which has generated some hubbub from George Takei, who played Sulu in the original series.
“My primary concern was that I was wondering how George [Takei] would feel, because he’s a gay actor that played a straight part and crafted a straight character. I didn’t want him to feel that we had reduced him to his sexuality by sort of borrowing this bit, if you will, from his life. You know? And his opinion was important to me, and I would have rather had him support the decision than not, so I wanted to reach out to him.”
“I was concerned also that there might be Asian-American backlash. There has been this feminisation of Asian men, so I thought this might be seen as continuing that lineage, which I disagree with personally, but I brought it up. I was also concerned, scientifically speaking, that we’re in an alternate universe but I’m assuming that Sulu is the same genetic Sulu in both timelines, and I thought we might be implying that sexual orientation was a choice.”
It seems, though, that despite his concerns, John feels that the choice to make Sulu gay and have him married to an Asian man was tastefully done and also important for the representation of Asian men.
“Basically it was a little Valentine to the gay Asian friends that I grew up with. This may be presumptuous, but I always felt the Asian gay men that I knew had much heavier cultural-shame issues.”
“This is probably more so for my generation than for yours, but I felt like those guys didn’t date Asian men because of that cultural shame. So I wanted it to seem really normal in the future. I thought that would be the most normal thing, that there was zero shame in the future. I don’t know if that hit or not, but it was something that I felt in my gut and asked for that.”
“I was like, This is good. I just thought it came from a real place, and I also thought that it personalized Sulu a little bit, which was a good move. We just see him steer the ship mostly and do his job, and I just wanted to give that some other weight. I thought that having the family deepened his character a little bit.”
“Arguably that could’ve been with a wife and daughter, but in any case I just thought that having a personal life was a nice addition to the character. This is an important point for me and I’d like to know your opinion on this too. Early on I said to Justin, ‘Dude, it would be important to me to have an Asian husband.'”
The full interview is rather lengthy, so check it out here.