One of the writers of Star Trek Beyond and Hollywood mainstay Bryan Fuller has said writing the character of Sulu as gay was key to better ‘representation’.
In Star Trek Beyond, Sulu – played by John Cho – has a same-sex partner with whom he is raising a daughter.
Fuller, who is gay and married, said at the Star Trek 50th anniversary panel: ‘I think the bigger picture is that we need gay representation.
‘And the fact that they embraced that idea and made John Cho’s portrayal as Sulu a gay man was a lovely move of inclusivity.
‘With the science-fiction extrapolation of one universe to the other and the fluidity of sexuality, it feels like there’s an explanation that both of those things exist.’
While the decision to make Sulu gay has been met mostly with praise, ironically the out gay actor of the original Sulu George Takei called the alteration ‘really unfortunate‘.
‘I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,’ Takei told The Hollywood Reporter. ‘Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought.
‘I think it’s really unfortunate.
‘I told [John Cho], ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted,’ Takei explained.
Fuller felt Takei was ‘absolutely entitled’ to his opinion. ‘It is that interpretation that you worked with, with the creator of the show, that has been cemented in your mind.
‘So I think he is absolutely entitled to feel that way, because I absolutely understand why he feels that way.’
Cho said the decision by writer Simon Pegg and the director Justin Lin to make Sulu gay was a loving tribute to Takei, and a sign of the ‘changing times’.