I think we all thought the exact same thing when we learned that Star Trek Beyond was going to establish Hikaru Sulu as the first openly gay crew member of the Enterprise... George Takei is going to be beside himself. After all, the germ of the idea originated from the actor's own backstory and was more or less meant as a tribute to him. Well, Takei is delighted that there's going to be a gay character in Star Trek, but he's not thrilled that it's Sulu, and he's got a pretty solid reason why.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Takei talked at length about his relationship with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. In particular, he focused on a conversation the two had about the possibility of introducing a gay character to the original series saying, "He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality, but he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air."
Makes perfect sense. This was the late 60s after all, when the civil rights movement was still burgeoning and was the hot button issue of the day. Better for them to focus on one target at a time. However, when asked about the news that Sulu was going to be revealed to be a gay character in the upcoming Star Trek film, Takei had this to say...
"I’m delighted that there’s a gay character," he tells 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."
Now, no one understands the fight for equality better than Takei, who has had to weather storms due to both his sexuality and race, so I think we should defer to him on this one. As a heterosexual white male Star Trek fan, I can see the urge for Simon Pegg and Justin Lin to do this as a way of moving the series forward while simultaneously honoring its past. I get why they did it, and I'm glad they did it, but maybe they should've phoned Takei first to make sure he was on board. They might have been able to come up with another way of introducing a gay character. Who knows? It's a complex and complicated issue, and one that's sure to be a part of the discussion of Star Trek going forward, which is the most exciting part of all.