Everyone grip the nearest bridge console, because this is the best news. THE BEST.
(Slight non-plot-related spoilers for Star Trek Beyond, obviously.)
It was recently revealed in the Australian newspaper Herald Sun that Star Trek Beyond will include a brief scene showing Helmsman Hikaru Sulu’s family, namely his partner (husband?) and their daughter.
If you’re thinking that’s likely a nod to George Takei, who originated the role of Sulu and is also a gay man, you would be correct. John Cho, who is currently playing the character, said he was pleased with the direction they took: “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.”
Fan speculation points to said daughter being Demora Sulu, who later goes on in the Prime Universe timeline to helm the Enterprise-B. Of course, there are still questions to ask about Sulu’s family and orientation that aren’t automatically settled by this appearance; Sulu could be gay, but he could also be bi or pansexual, for example. Also, did he and his partner adopt their daughter, or use a surrogate mother, or is it possible for two men to have a child in the 23rd century? If Kirk can be revived with TribbleKhan blood then anything seems possible.
While Star Trek was very much on the progressive forefront at its inception, the shows and films of the 1980s, 90s, and 00s have never managed to portray a LGBT+ main cast member. The closest the franchise has come is in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Rejoined,” where Jadzia Dax, a joined Trill and symbiont reunites with a female lover that Dax knew while occupying a male body. Jadzia Dax’s complex biology (and the fact that she is essentially the melding of two beings) along with the rules of Trill culture muddy the topic of orientation, and the issues raised are isolated to this singular episode.
From the sound of it, this revelation regarding Sulu is far less ambiguous, and has far-reaching consequences as well–it seems highly unlikely that Sulu would by gay in the Kelvin Timeline, but not in the Prime Universe. Meaning: Sulu was always gay (or bi or pan or…), and we just never knew it. This manner of inclusivity is something that Star Trek was always meant to exemplify, and adding this aspect to Sulu’s character to honor George Takei–a tireless fighter for LGBT+ rights–is a lovely way to do it.
I can’t wait to see the scene. Sulu probably takes his daughter on board and sits her in his lap and teaches her all about how the helm works, and Kirk keeps asking if he can hold her because she’s the cutest baby alive, and probably whenever she starts to cry, Scotty offers to bring up some scotch. Uhura teaches her bits of Klingon and Vulcan that start to weave their way into the kid’s vocabulary. Spock doesn’t know what to do because he canonically sucks at holding babies. McCoy keeps warning Sulu about how much trouble she’s gonna be in a few years, having been through this already…
Wait you guys, what if Chekov was Sulu’s best man at his wedding/commitment ceremony, shut up, YOU’RE CRYING, IT’S NOT ME.
In any case, with a 50 year anniversary on the horizon, it’s been a long time coming.
Keep going, Star Trek. There’s still so much more to explore.