Following John Cho's reveal that his iteration of Sulu is gay, a cry of "no homo" has been loosed from an unlikely baritone.
George Takei--a man known primarily for being Sulu and also being gay--has come out, so to speak, against Star Trek Beyond's new sexual identity for his former character.
While Takei remains, openly and proudly, in no way against homosexuality, he apparently feels that to label Sulu as gay would be to go against Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's vision of a wholly hetero Enterprise bridge, where only Uhura would be at risk of distraction from Khan's exposed pecs.
Speaking to THR, the actor explained, "I'm delighted that there's a gay character. Unfortunately, it's a twisting of Gene's creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it's really unfortunate."
According to Takei, Roddenberry was "a strong supporter of LGBT equality," and perhaps would have created a character from that community himself. "But he said he [had] been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope -- and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air."
Nonetheless, since a Sulu that was slimly identified as straight was what Roddenberry cooked up--before cooking up a Kirk/Jesus fist-fight--that's how Takei feels it should remain in perpetuity.
Needless to say, Star Trek Beyond writer Simon Pegg has a different take on the matter. And, in a statement to The Guardian, he's made a strongly convincing, well thought-out case against Takei's unexpectedly anti-revisionist stance. He wrote:
"I have huge love and respect for George Takei, his heart, courage and humour are an inspiration. However, with regards to his thoughts on our Sulu, I must respectfully disagree with him.
"He's right, it is unfortunate, it's unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn't featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the 'gay character', rather than simply for who they are, and isn't that tokenism?"
"[Director] Justin Lin, [co-writer] Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic. Also, the audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning (at least in the Kelvin timeline), that a gay hero isn't something new or strange. It's also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted, why would he need to be? It's just hasn't come up before.
"I don't believe Gene Roddenberry's decision to make the prime timeline's Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one, more a necessity of the time. Trek rightly gets a lot of love for featuring the first interracial kiss on US television, but Plato's Stepchildren [which daringly featured an inter-racial kiss between Kirk and Uhura] was the lowest rated episode ever.
"The viewing audience weren't open minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always 'infinite diversity in infinite combinations'. If he could have explored Sulu's sexuality with George, he no doubt would have. Roddenberry was a visionary and a pioneer but we choose our battles carefully.
"Our Trek is an alternate timeline with alternate details. Whatever magic ingredient determines our sexuality was different for Sulu in our timeline. I like this idea because it suggests that in a hypothetical multiverse, across an infinite matrix of alternate realities, we are all LGBT somewhere.
"Whatever dimension we inhabit, we all just want to be loved by those we love (and I love George Takei). I can't speak for every reality but that must surely true of this one. Live long and prosper."
Just so long as McCoy is never re-written to be anything but horribly racist.