The Australian Herald Sun reported July 7 that John Cho, who portrays Hikaru Sulu in the reboot of the “Star Trek” films, revealed that his character is gay, a decision made by “Star Trek Beyond’s” director Justin Lin and writer Simon Pegg. The decision serves as a nod to George Takei, who originally played Sulu, and his work as a gay activist.

According to the report, Sulu is depicted to have a daughter and a male partner. “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 politicize one’s personal orientations,” Cho told the Herald Sun.

While the decision was made as an homage, Takei has opposed it. He told The Hollywood Reporter that he is “delighted” to know that there is a gay character in the new movie, but called the revelation of Sulu’s sexual identity a “twisting” of the original creator’s work.

He elaborated July 13 on Facebook, “when I was first approached with the concept, I responded that I hoped instead that Gene Roddenberry’s original characters and their backgrounds would be respected. How exciting it would be instead if a new hero might be created, whose story could be fleshed out from scratch, rather than reinvented.”

While acknowledging that the new movies are set in an alternate timeline within the Star Trek universe, Takei said, “it seemed less than necessary to tinker with an existing character in order to fulfill Gene’s hope of a truly diverse Trek universe. And while I am flattered that the character of Sulu apparently was selected as an homage to me, this was never about me or what I wanted. It was about being true to Gene’s vision and storytelling.”

Takei went on to say that Roddenberry had considered adding LGBT characters to the progressive show, but decided against it to reflect American cultural values at the time of its airing. “Star Trek” famously depicted the first interracial kiss on TV some 50 years ago, which Takei said caused the show’s rating to plummet and be censored from much of the South.

“So the lack of gay characters was not some oversight by him; it was a conscious decision with which he grappled,” Takei wrote. “I loved Gene as a friend, and I respected his decision and the context under which he created these stories. On this 50th year anniversary of Star Trek, my hope was to honor his foresight and bravery, as well as his ability to create discussion and diversity despite these constraints.”

Takei concluded, “While I would have gone with the development of a new character in this instance, I do fully understand and appreciate what they are doing — as ever, boldly going where no one has gone before. Star Trek will live long and prosper.”

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