Roughly two weeks ago, word emerged that screen/stage vet Anthony Rapp had been added to the cast of ‘Star Trek Discovery’ as Lt. Stamets an “astromycologist” science officer on board the Discovery. Lt. Stamets will also be the first openly gay ‘Star Trek’ character on a TV series. He would have been the first period, except for the fact that in this summer’s ‘Star Trek Beyond’, John Cho’s Lt. Sulu was revealed to be gay, something which shockingly upset George Takei, the actor who originated the role on the original 1960s TV series. After all, Takei is gay and has worked tirelessly for years as an advocate for the LGBTQ community and the decision to make the big screen Sulu gay was done to both honor him and to show further diversity, something that has always been a hallmark of the ‘Trek’ universe.
Takei discussed the issue, saying:
“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.’… 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.”
Takei further added:
“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 Takei feels that Rapp’s “new character” was the right way to go. (Although, personally, I don’t think it would have worked in the movie because “new character” = who cares?) (Rapp, it should probably be noted, is also gay in real life.)
“I’m eager to see him,” Takei expressed. “I want to know what they’ll do!”
Were you upset that they made Sulu gay in ‘Star Trek Beyond’? Do you agree with Takei that this is the more appropriate way to introduce a gay character to the Trek-verse?
If you are also eager to see what producers have in store for Lt. Stamets, ‘Star Trek Discovery’ premieres in May on CBS All Access, although the first episode will air on CBS first.