Thursday, July 7, 2016

STAR TREK BEYOND Reveals Hikaru Sulu is Gay (No Big Deal)

It's taken 50 years, but Mr. Sulu is finally out.  And yes, it's no big deal.

The Australian Herald Sun has confirmed that the Star Trek franchise finally has an openly gay character in the form of Enterprise helmsman Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu.  The article states that in the upcoming Justin Lin film Star Trek Beyond, Sulu (played by actor John Cho) will be shown "as the loving father of a daughter with a same sex partner.  And in typical trailblazing Trek fashion — it’s just not a big deal."

During a visit to Sydney to promote the movie, Cho stated that the decision by writer Simon Pegg and Lin to make Sulu gay was a tribute to original Sulu actor George Takei, who played the character on the first Star Trek television series, and was a sign of what he hoped were changing times.

Takei publicly came out as gay in 2005, after decades of hiding his sexuality so that he could continue working in Hollywood.  Star Trek has received considerable criticism over the years for not featuring an LGBTQ main character, even though it's set in the future.  The closest Star Trek ever came was Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a character who was the host for a symbiont named Dax, whose previous host was male.

"I liked the approach," said Cho, "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."

Created in 1966 by Gene Roddenberry, Hikaru Sulu will be born on June 24, 2230 in San Francisco, and is of Japanese heritage.  He was shown as the USS Enterprise's staff physicist in the second Star Trek pilot episode, "Where No Man Has Gone Before," but served as third officer and senior helmsman under Captain James T. Kirk throughout the rest of the series, during which he held the rank of lieutenant.

Throughout the series, Sulu is shown having many interests and hobbies, including gymnastics, botany, fencing, and ancient weaponry.  In the episode "The Naked Time," Spock observes that Sulu "is at heart a swashbuckler out of the 18th century."  The character is promoted to lieutenant commander some time before Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and to full commander by the time of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  During the first five Star Trek movies, he serves as helmsman aboard both the USS Enterprise and USS Enterprise-A.  He is promoted to captain and given command of the USS Excelsior three years before the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

Star Trek Generations introduces Hikaru's daughter, Demora Sulu (Jacqueline Kim), a Starfleet ensign serving aboard the USS Enterprise-B under the command of Captain John Harriman in 2293.

Star Trek Beyond is scheduled to arrive in theaters on July 22, 2016.

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