Actor John Cho, who plays helmsman Hikaru Sulu in the current version of Star Trek -- aka the Kelvin Timeline -- recently revealed that we will see the character with not just his daughter, but his husband in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond, confirming that Sulu is gay.
The news typically brought on a range of responses, but perhaps the most surprising came from the original Sulu, George Takei, a gay man himself, who was not happy with the decision and thought it would be better to create a new LGBT character. Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the recent films and also co-wrote Star Trek Beyond, took eloquent but firm issue with Takei's views, saying that a new crew member would be defined only by his or her sexuality.
Now, Zachary Quinto, the current Mr. Spock and an LGBT person, has offered his stance on the matter, which -- like Simon Pegg -- is opposite to that of Takei. Quinto told Pedestrian:
"As a member of the LGBT community myself, I was disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed. I get it that he's has had his own personal journey and has his own personal relationship with this character but, you know, as we established in the first Star Trek film in 2009, we've created an alternate universe. My hope is that eventually George can be strengthened by the enormously positive response from especially young people who are heartened by and inspired by this really tasteful and beautiful portrayal of something that I think is gaining acceptance and inclusion in our societies across the world, and should be."
I would take it a step further than Quinto -- the alternate universe of the Kelvin Timeline doesn't have to be the justification of Sulu's sexuality. I would argue that he was who he was before the timeline split (in 2009's Star Trek), without having to make room for two versions of the character.
Takei felt that original Trek creator Gene Roddenberry never envisioned Sulu as a gay man. But since Sulu's sexuality has actually never come up in 50 years -- he was never even given any kind of romance on the original series or in the movies -- making him LGBT does not seem like a massive change in the character, but rather the natural revelation of a facet of his being that has simply never been discussed before.
As befitting Star Trek's message of inclusiveness and diversity, the debate continues in respectful terms. What do you think of Quinto's views on the matter? Star Trek Beyond opens on July 22.