Sometimes, a little good news in the media can put a smile on my face. The news was brought to the internet and fans today by an interview done by actor John Cho in his press tour for the upcoming Star Trek Beyond. In an interview with the Herald Sun, Cho confirmed the classic characters sexuality and the introduction of a partner, calling it a tribute to the characters original actor, George Takei.
Cho was quoted saying the following about the handling of the character development:
“I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicise one’s personal orientations,”
It’s great to read that the film will be treating his sexuality as just another aspect of the character and how he’s been written-we of course as an audience would like to imagine a future where who we love isn’t a politicized notion or a means to demean another human being. However, despite the film giving it little fanfare, make no mistake, this is big news. Should it be? Perhaps not-it is 2016 and we should be used to seeing LGBTQIA characters in our movie theater and television screens. However, it’s 2016, and we aren’t used to seeing those characters be represented and, when they are, we typically have to worry about tropes grabbing them away from us.
Star Trek from it’s inception has been a show about progress and hope, something that the show, debuting in the 60’s, didn’t always master but under Gene Roddenberry’s direction was always at least trying. With it’s diverse cast the show spearheaded the idea of being inclusive in science fiction and it’s only befitting that the series, 50 years later, would take up the same progressive mantle and try and do the same. Maybe, just maybe, Sulu’s sexuality and it’s visibility in the film, a big budget summer tentpole, will make a difference to one person, and that at least is something.
And sadly that something is more than most. It’s why I’m okay celebrating the news, despite it bring forth a big ol’ “about time” feeling from this fan. This, ideally, shouldn’t have been big news because it’s ONE character in 50 years of television shows and films that could have shined a light on an LGBTQIA cause.
My hope is that this starts something or, at the very least, allows for other films, big budgeted ones in particular, to also allow for room for LGBTQIA characters in their canon. So, Star Wars, I’m looking to you and all the hoopla that Poe Dameron caused following the films release. I’m looking at Elsa in Frozen and the give Elsa a girlfriend hashtag. Star Trek has in their own small way (but monumental to some) proven that there is room for gay characters in a science fiction film so why should it stop there? Adding representation all across the board to animation and sci-fi to romantic comedies, superhero films and just straight fantasy is an easy and joyous way to allow for marginalized groups to see themselves and feel that tug of inclusiveness in pop-culture.
Sulu is gay, and I couldn’t be happier. Hopefully this paves the way to a happier, more progressive character development.