Last summer’s Star Trek Beyond revealed Hikaru Sulu — the character originated by George Takei in the original 1966 television series — is gay, a development that left Takei with mixed feelings.
But he’s quite excited that “Star Trek: Discovery” will prominently feature a gay character.
“I’m eager to see him,” he says of Anthony Rapp, who’s set to star as a gay Starfleet science officer on the upcoming CBS spinoff.
While being presented with the ICON Award at Saturday’s Unforgettable Gala, which honors Asians in entertainment, Takei talked about gay characters in the Star Trek universe and beyond.
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.”
As for Sulu being gay in 2016’s Star Trek Beyond?
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.”
Later, Takei revealed that he tried persuading Roddenberry to incorporate a gay storyline into the original series, but 1960s audiences simply weren’t ready for that.
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.
According to Variety, he’s clearly extremely excited about “Discovery,” which will premiere in May.
“I want to know what they’ll do!” he says.