Well, this has been interesting. What was initially intended as a moment of progressive affection has drawn comment and debate from the unlikeliest corners. What is heartening is that the vast majority of comments have never questioned the decision to include an LGBT character in Star Trek, just whether or not it should be existing characters or new ones. Those who have whined about the secret agenda of the liberal left, spreading ungodly perversions, through the evil mouthpiece of homosexual Hollywood, can go fuck themselves (apologies to serial masturbators if you find that offensive, we get so little support from the mainstream media).
The main thrust for those who aren’t keen on our LGBT Sulu, seems to come down to two things. Firstly, why Sulu? It’s a good point, I mean it could have been anybody: Kirk is a pansexual fun seeker; who knows why Bones got divorced? Nobody said Spock and Uhura were exclusive; Chekov is just permanently horny and let’s face it, there’s more to Scotty and Keenser than meets the eye. The fact is, we chose Sulu because of George, there was something sweet and poetic about it. Introducing a new gay character had its own set of problems, as I mentioned before, the sexuality of that character would have to be addressed immediately and pointedly and the new characters in Star Trek Beyond have enough on their plate, without stopping to give us the intimate details of their personal lives. We were concerned it might seem clumsy, tokenistic or worse, too little too late, raising and exasperated, “finally!” from those who’ve been waiting for representation for the last 50 years.
So why persist when George Takei wasn’t keen? The thinking behind embracing an existing character was that it felt as though it retroactively put right something that had long been wrong. By the time, we mentioned it to GT, the idea had taken shape, it felt good, interesting and worthy of thought and conversation. We were disappointed that George didn’t see it that way but, truth be told, Sulu Prime seemed to be missing a very important point. With galaxies of respect to the great man, this is not his Sulu. John Cho does not play a young George Takei, nor does he play the same character George Takei played in the original series. He is a different Sulu. This brings me to the second point of contention, Canon.
With the Kelvin timeline, we are not entirely beholden to existing canon, this is an alternate reality and, as such is full of new and alternate possibilities. “BUT WAIT!” I hear you brilliant and beautiful super Trekkies cry, “Canon tells us, Hikaru Sulu was born before the Kelvin incident, so how could his fundamental humanity be altered? Well, the explanation comes down to something very Star Treky; theoretical, quantum physics and the less than simple fact that time is not linear. Sure, we experience time as a contiguous series of cascading events but perception and reality aren’t always the same thing. Spock’s incursion from the Prime Universe created a multidimensional reality shift. The rift in space/time created an entirely new reality in all directions, top to bottom, from the Big Bang to the end of everything. As such this reality was, is and always will be subtly different from the Prime Universe. I don’t believe for one second that Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t have loved the idea of an alternate reality (Mirror, Mirror anyone?). This means, and this is absolutely key, the Kelvin universe can evolve and change in ways that don’t necessarily have to follow the Prime Universe at any point in history, before or after the events of Star Trek ‘09, it can mutate and subvert, it is a playground for the new and the progressive and I know in my heart, that Gene Roddenberry would be proud of us for keeping his ideals alive. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations, this was his dream, that is our dream, it should be everybody’s.
Ultimately, if we love Star Trek, we are all on the same page, we all want Gene’s idea of a tolerant inclusive, diplomatic and loving Universe to become a reality. For those who have joined this debate in the spirit of discussion and forward momentum, it’s been a pleasure to see your reactions. For those who have seen it as an opportunity to sling abuse, or be rude and presumptuous, please take a long hard look in the mirror and remember we are discussing the personal details of a fictional spaceman. In the words of Martin Blank, who are you mad at? Because it’s not me.
I am so excited for you all to see Star Trek Beyond, whether you’re a 50 year veteran or this is your first time around. We made it with love and we made it for everyone.
Thanks for the explanation (even though not necessary).
I love the idea, and I’m sorry GT doesn’t feel the same way.
Do your own thing SP, we’ll keep watching!
All the best,
We love you Simon and everything you’ve done. Old star trek and new one. Keep on keepin on!!!!
I’ve been an off again on again trekkie since I was about nine. My conclusion is this: star trek anything has always changed and always been diverse, the storylines have changed, the fashions change…my point is that everything changes. Why is sulu such an issue? Autocorrect is a bear, by the way…um. yeah, I guess I don’t see the problem.
Love you man. You are truly brilliant. If a lot of people don’t see that don’t take it to heart to bad. Plenty of us love everything about you.
Well said – can’t wait to see the film!
Well stated, I’m a lifelong ST fan and to address an issue which would have been taboo all those years ago is appropriate and refreshing.
Excellent points. I’m saddened that George Takei didn’t see it as the homage it was *obviously* intended to be. Regardless of his opinion, I’m excited to see your writing skills on the screen.
Smart, thoughtful, just-enough-wiseass comment. Love you, SP!
The Martin Blank quote will be the most pleasurable thing I’ll see online for a week, guaranteed. Oh, and all that other stuff you said? Smart.
I also loved the Martin Blank quote. You don’t see enough of them. #Popcorn
When this story broke, I immediately altered Sulu Prime to have been gay originally. That George’s conversation with Gene about including a gay character had ended differently. George has spoken about the meeting publicly before and I assumed that talk was the basis for this acknowledgement. I think his pitch to Roddenberry was so bound up in his own closeted status that when it was rejected Mr. Takei locked up Sulu’s sexuality like he had done his own. You outing Sulu probably feels like you outing George in the 60s. And we know how outing someone before they want to be outted gets received.
I have no personal knowledge of any party involved, but it seems (from my outside perspective) that that is the place where George might be coming from, emotionally. George, more than any other cast member, embraced his character, and the fans. Mrs. Nichols is a close second I think – thanks to Dr. King’s conversation that kept her on the show in the first place. It took Nemoy two books to come to terms with Spock being part of him, and Shatner only recently has embraced it all. I think that is why George had the reaction he did. You retroactively outted him 50 years ago with this change.
I could be wrong about all this, but in my head-canon George and Gene put the first gay man on tv 50 years ago; they just never wrote a story about it because there was no conflict to be explored, and they were overly focused on Kirk’s sex life (and the lack of Spock’s) to leave room for Chekhov and Sulu’s budding romance (seriously, some of those side-ways glances could have double meanings).
Of all the things I’ve heard about the movie, this one gives me the most hope that you were indeed able to keep more of the spirit of TREK in this film.
I think it’s great that more diverse characters are being portrayed on the big/small screen but changing Sulu’s character could open up the unwanted/idiotic argument that being LGBT is a choice and not just from birth (being born before the alt universe happens).
If this was a homage to Mr Takei then it seems a little perplexing as he hasn’t been gay in everything he’s ever acted in because he was ‘acting’ not just being ‘George Takei is George Takei in Beyond Westworld’ (ironically he seems to be playing himself in most of his recent work) . If this was the case then the re-booted Lethal Weapon would have Martin Riggs portrayed as a racist religious drunk in homage to Mr Gibson (I’m not comparing being gay to being a racist).
My final point is making a character gay when they weren’t before seems a little like its a publicity stunt/fad (going with recent events Orlando etc..) and not a conscious effort for change or to represent the LGBT community but maybe despite all I’ve mentioned more acceptance will happenstance.
As a life long Trekker now nearing 50 and Gay Man, I thank you. Yeah, people are going to piss and moan about “Tokenism” and whatever else Social Justice Warriors find to piss and moan about, but the fact of the matter is, YOU finally gave representation to the Gay community and that is amazing and brave because not only were you risking antipathy from the straight community, but as a member of the LGBTQ community, I can tell you that trying to please us is like trying to herd psychotic cats on crack. You just cant do it in a sane manner that works for all. Im sorry George is not pleased, but George is a one member of the community and while I do love and respect him,he does not represent all of us. Thank you Mr. Pegg, I appreciate what you did.
Man you know that history has shown that true genius is often misunderstood . GT can get over it , I love him but John Cho is doing Sulu proud . Love the old Star Trek , but the new guys are great too . Just consider please having Shatner meet Pine !!! Shatner can be so frickin funny I just know that it could be hysterical . Like a Kirk from bizaro land . Oh and more Scotty please , your writing the script so give yourself some face time Pegg !
I only wish the sexuality wasn’t an issue. If the character doesn’t have romantic encounters I couldn’t care a fig what sexuality they were. If they do it either is immediately apparent, or might need a few lines of dialog if prior event swould casue the audience to be baffled or confused by their sexuality. Either way happy that Kelvin Sulu is gay. Seems fair enough. In the nicest possible way though. I couldn’t care-a-less one way or the other.
Well, okay, I would have pointed out that creating a new character that happens to be gay only feeds the “agenda” paranoia, but since it wasn’t the case and it was a good intention gesture towards a beloved character and the amazing actor who played him for so many years, it was proof that you had the most sincere and honest intention. And good on ya! I’m very proud you’re trying to instil new and exciting stuff. Everything else is just… first world problems.
I was 11 years old when the original series aired. I loved it from the moment I saw it. Fifty years later I’m totally enamored with the ‘reboot’ and embrace the new ideas and possibilities! Thanks to Simon et al for taking something so dear to me and expanding on its greatness! Looking forward to seeing next movie and cheering on my childhood hero!
You’re a good man, Simon.
Keep up the good work.
Wonderful discussion, Simon. I completely agree with your reasoning … We have a fatherless Kirk, a Spock/ Uhura relationship, a destroyed Vulcan, a militarized Starfleet, a fearful UFP and rank on women’s uniforms (thanks). Why not a gay Sulu? It’s a different world out there… Celebrate tolerance, inclusion and diversity. THOSE are the core values of Trek. Well done!
– Kerry, former DS9 and TNG and Paramount Film Dept crew and longtime Trek fan
Thank you for this post and I agree wholly with you. I was extremely pleased to learn about Sulu’s sexuality (and should we keep hope of Kirk’s pansexuality being officially addressed too from your post ?) and I was very sad that George didn’t share that happiness and excitment.
Thank you again for this and the thoughtful and honest approach you gave to this. I was already very hyped to see Beyond, and I’m even more excited now. Thank you.
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I’m a life-long Star Trek fan, having watched the Original Series in the ’60’s as a kid. I have no problem with the gay character and it’s a great nod to George Takei. But I think Takei should just take a chill pill and relax about it. He’s entitled to an opinion but he does not “own” that character.
I also think the Kelvin Timeline is a great idea. Now ST can go in any direction without “future history” getting in the way.
Looking forward to Beyond. Keep up the great work, Simon !
Being in my 50’s and “raised” on Star Trek, the first time I heard that Sulu was going to be gay I thought…really? Et Tu Brutus?
Then George put in his 2 cents out there and initially I sided with him.
However, the response that you put out there as to the reasons why you chose an established character instead of just creating one was ridiculously brilliant and it changed my vote.
Scotty really is a miracle worker :)
Thank you Simon. You speak to the more noble part of our humanity. Tolerance is part and parcel. Gene saw then what we are seeing now. Acceptance is key. George speaks to his feelings because he has history. I won’t diminish him for having an opinion. Keep us moving forward Simon.
shits on the star wars prequels – makes shitty star trek prequels.
THANK YOU FOR THIS. Thank you for being so eloquent and responsible with your decisions and your commentary from start to finish. It’s the 24th century in a theoretically Utopian society, of course queer in one way or another is the default! (Fun fact, in our year 2016 there are studies showing that more teens consider themselves neither straight nor gay than ever before–it’s already beginning!)
The only thing that I feel obligated in a way to chime in with (because really you’ve been hitting it out of the park sir, thank you again) is that it might be potentially damaging to just say that it’s fine, Sulu Prime can be straight because it’s an alternate reality. There are 43 years of queer fans before the birth of the Kelvin timeline who claimed Mr. Sulu as their own. It doesn’t matter that George only came out publicly in 2005. 43 years of small conventions with a deeply intimate early fandom where it was a known secret. It’s not just about us it’s about the whole legacy of the thing, and personally it worries me. But that might just be me.
Anyway, off the soap box, thank you for being divine Mr. Pegg. You’re the head engineer we needed, though maybe not the one we deserve.
I totally get your points Simon, and they are very valid ones. It’s just that I still have the feeling that this changes things for the Prime Universe.
Yes, Sulu Prime can be straight, and Sulu Kelvin can be gay. But what can have caused such a change? Before the Kelvin incident, everything was identical in both universes/the Kelvin timeline didn’t exist, right? Kirk obviously was affected by the Kelvin incident, he grew up a significantly different man (and yet, he is getting closer and closer to Kirk prime! Just look at Picard vs Shinzon… same genes, different upbringing, very different characters). Spock only got changed at a later point (apart from minor changes due to the universe being a bit different because Kirk’s father died and space ships look different now). But Sulu? So while it is possible, too, that he has changed, it seems less likely. And let me point to Kirk prime/Kirk Kelvin again, who are starting to merge a little.
As a result, this gives me the impression that in the Prime universe, Sulu (who was a family man… typically associated with straight men) only pretends to be straight. He just didn’t come out… because society isn’t accepting gay men? Keep in mind that IIRC in all of Star Trek (Prime timeline) there are no gay characters. It seems to be a surprisingly straight universe! And making Sulu gay in the Kelvin timeline just makes it look like the Prime universe is against homosexuality, and the Kelvin incident managed to change society (maybe the influx of Vulcans led to more tolerance?).
Now, this doesn’t have to be. Sulu could be shown as bisexual, and that solves all issues. Or Sulu could, at some point, with his partner, have a baby girl named Demora (or at least they talk about their intention to have a baby).
That would make it pretty clear, or at least more likely, that Sulu is gay in the Prime universe too. That no one ever bothered to talk about him being gay then just solidifies that in the Federation sexual preferences just don’t matter at all.
I mean, that /was/ addressed in the post? The idea that the Kelvin timeline isn’t beholden at any point to the events and characteristics of the Prime timeline — that the effects of the ruptured spacetime rippled both up and down the timeline in ways not immediately or directly related to the destruction of the Kelvin. I quote:
“the Kelvin universe can evolve and change in ways that don’t necessarily have to follow the Prime Universe at any point in history, before or after the events of Star Trek ‘09”
If you think of spacetime as… say, the surface of a pond, then the destruction of the Kelvin is dropping a stone into the pond. The ripples go in all directions, not just forward. Kelvin!Sulu being gay is just the result of one of those ripples.
Simon, thank you for sticking to your guns. George’s dissent on this matter seems to come from a position of sentiment that he alone is privy to based on his relationship with Roddenberry. For whatever reason, he mentally coded Sulu as firmly heterosexual, and he now has to contend with — for the first time in many decades — not being the primary source of all input regarding Sulu’s history and characterization. I never thought I’d side against the main LGBT voice in this kind of debate, but what you and Justin have said on this matter is absolutely valid and right-headed.
There hasn’t been a main LGBT character on Star Trek, aside from throwaway episodes and gimmicks that the writers would never again have to commit to (“The Outcast”, “Rejoined”). [I’ll note that Andrew J. Robinson made a valiant effort, but his sexuality was never stated outright.] For a show whose very foundation is based upon the flouting of regressive thinking, to have been around for 50 years without any such acknowledgement is truly ironic, almost laughable if it weren’t so sad. It was absolutely the right choice to confirm that a main character is LGBT, rather than to create a new character as though we couldn’t bear to taint one we already loved with that brush.
We know George is protective about Sulu, but this isn’t about intimation that a character could have been closeted in the 23rd century — it’s about a major franchise in the 21st century finally choosing to make the statement that he was never closeted, and never had a reason to be closeted, because just as there shouldn’t be a problem with not being straight now, there definitely isn’t one in this idealized depiction of the future we wish we were heading towards.
It sounds like you are just making an excuse for the issue. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with the LGBT inclusion, but you can point J.J. ‘s word processor and say here! We can change everything in this new time paradox!
Additionally, it’s none of your business about when GT came out and making assumptions about th character. It’s not your place to change the character. Did you know Gene Rodenberry? Not everything has to be a political/LGBT issue. I know those issues are important- and Star Trek is progressive. However, retcon on the character of Sulu is regressive.
And if we’re going by canon, don’t forget Episodes I-III are canon and superb films. Lacking in direction, yes, but superb films nonetheless. At least they didn’t rely on previous tropes [see The Force Awakens].
Dude. You lost me after about one paragraph. Keep making great movies!
I was moved to tears when I read the news about Sulu because it seemed like such a right thing to do, but this whole debate just leaves me sad.
Most of the arguments I’m seeing just seem irrelevant because it really was bloody time Trek had a gay character, the new timeline has little to do with TOS canon anyway, and the Kelvin TL Sulu is John Cho’s character, not George Takei’s. Even though Mr. Takei has the advantage of 3 seasons and a bunch of movies, and what he says tends to resonate louder, I feel that, on matters that affect the new character, only John Cho’s opinion should count. (As far as actors’ opinions go anyway.)
But since the idea of making Sulu gay only seems so brilliant because of George Takei’s work offscreen, and you borrowed a reference from his actual life, it seems a little indulgent on your part to overlook his discomfort and I do feel you did him an injustice by doing it without his permission. It just seems a bit Hollywood-dirty for my taste, and a little difficult to get past. :/
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Well said. As a lifelong trekkie who sees both the Takei and Pegg points as entirely valid, it’s time for the internet to calm down. The last reboot movie seemed to really miss the core of what makes Trek Trek. I wasn’t going to watch this new one. This post has changed my mind.
You get it, Simon. Thank you for speaking as a fan in a way that shows your passion for the franchise, even if it was on a topic that shouldn’t need elaboration. As long as you say it’s good, I’m on board.
Simon, as a lifelong fan as well as a professional writer & toiler in Trekland for much of it… your heartfelt reasons for the choice so long sought and now rejoiced by many is welcome and well-reasoned. The sidebar with GT and all in its wake… I understand and leave to others, but one other point intrigued me:
Your reply to the canonistas. That angle is actually a moot point: Prime Sulu IS younger than Kirk — evolved/embraced Okuda Timeline has him 4-5 years younger — so on the most basic level, Sulu and his orientation are a blank slate when Kelvin goes BOOM at Kirk’s birth -— just as the Chekovs somehow have their only child four years earlier in KT. There is no need even on *this* level to retcon anything. Even so, as you say, Prime Sulu had the most ambiguous sexuality of any of the regulars, anyway.
I have the healthiest of crushes on you, my good man. Bravo.
Just a follow-up to my earlier post.
So the obvious question is, Why is Sulu straight in one timeline, and gay in the other?
But we’ve already seen in “Mirror, Mirror” that Spock can be “good” in one timeline and “evil” in the other timeline. It’s the same thing. So I think the easiest explanation is, “People are different in different timelines.”
If I had to come up with a second explanation, I’d say that Sulu, in the Kelvin timeline with different circumstances, met someone that just “swept him off his feet”, regardless of gender.
But I’m ok with the “Different timelines = Different people” explanation. Think about it: If there were a hundred of “You” in a hundred different timelines, would you be the same exact person in each timeline?
I’m glad you feel that way, and from the details you’ve included for everyone to understand how you’ve worked out why it’s completely legit, I really wish we were friends in real life :P It would be nice to be able to talk about things like that with someone who can actually understand them.
I don’t need to comment on the inclusion of an LGBT character – it is not my business what people do in the privacy of their own lives now or in the 23rd century. :) What I will say is I have enjoyed every incarnation of Star Trek. I think you guys have done a great job with the re-boot. The new cast captures the camaraderie and the spirit that TOS had. I wish you all the very best.
SP, I’ve always thought the alternative time line approach was an elegant and very Trek way to reboot the franchise, so I have no issues with whatever you guys choose to do when dealing with ‘canon’ (including the necessity to explain yourselves in needlessly detailed blog posts) however I am far, far less concerned with the minor detail of Sulu’s sexual preference as with the quality of the new movie. Put me firmly in the camp of “ST Beyond: please don’t suck” and let’s let Sulu and his family be just be happy. LLAP.
I think that with the tragic loss of Anton, the Star Trek universe is a little smaller, and a little less complete, and I think it makes this drama seem more than a little childish. I think that once again having the opportunity to visit in the Trek world is a wonder. I am a Star Trek fan from childhood, a George Takei fan, a Simon Pegg fan, but ultimately, a fan of a good story. I don’t think that having any character come out as LGBT should be an issue in this day and age. As long as the story is good.
I posted this elsewhere in another discussion, not taking the quantum mechanics into account: I normally despise character race/gender/orientation changes like this. Khan being a white, emo terrorist in STID made me die a little inside. I can think of only two that I’ve liked: Michael Clark Duncan as Kingpin and Michael B Jordan as Johnny Storm. I can see how showing Sulu as gay in Beyond can be polarizing. On one hand, you have a scene that, from what I hear is tastefully done, just showing Sulu looking at a picture of his husband and daughter, like any straight person would do when on a deep space trip. That’s it. It doesn’t change his character at all. In fact, it makes it such a non-issue, as his character has now been gay in the last two films, but who cares, he’s not a token gay character, he’s a main character that just so happens to be gay. This is the best way to introduce a gay character, IMHO. On the other hand, you now have the actor who played the original Sulu as straight, claim that this now makes his character closeted and goes against the creator’s original vision. I disagree that the character was closeted as his sexuality was never addressed. His mirror universe counterpart doesn’t count because their sexual orientations have never been bound to the original characters. As far as Takei playing him straight and the creator’s original vision… David Prowse played Vader as the killer of Anakin Skywalker in ANH and George Lucas had no intention of Vader being Luke’s father at the time… but growth was added to the character in ESB without taking away anything that came from the previous performance, in fact, it added to it. I feel the change in Sulu’s character is an enhancement, because now we care about little bit more that he makes it home, and it doesn’t make the original Sulu closeted, or take anything away from Geroge’s (non-mirror-universe) performance. If they introduced a new gay character and made sure we knew he was gay right away, I’d be one of those people that Pegg was describing as watching the film and going, “Great, they gotta shove a gay person in here to appeal to every demographic…” It feels way more organic the way they’ve done it and I have to say I’m with camp Pegg on this one.
Thank you Simon for finally letting us out of the closet in the Star Trek world. Have always been a fan of Star Trek and of you Sir and will continue to be! Live long and Prosper!
As a transgender and pansexual person myself, the news of Sulu- an amazing character from a series that is so important to me personally- being canonically considered gay, makes my heart heart with genuine joy and appreciation. I truly hope that in Beyond, we will be able to see his husband and daughter in the flesh. I might actually cry from happiness if it happens, with all honesty. And I know I’m not the only one- most of the friends I have made over the years are LGBT as well, and all of them that like or love Star Trek are as excited as I am. I’ve even caused more people to watch the series as a result of the news.
But. Not to sound greedy, but I have to hope for more. Would there ever be a chance, within the alternate universe that the movies take place in, of other characters- not just Sulu- being canonically confirmed as LGBT? I’m sure you’ve already been asked that of Kirk and Spock, especially- for 50 years there have been many people hoping for them to be LGBT, as again, I’m sure you know. But I will admit I have hopes of that for Uhura as well.
Again, call me greedy, I suppose. But very few series are willing to have even one gay character in their primary cast. Let alone two. I feel like Star Trek, of all series, would be the one to try it.
As it is, I am incredibly happy to have Hikaru Sulu. There is something beautiful in representation, especially in a character so beloved through the decades, something beautiful and inspiring, and I can only hope that George Takei comes to realize that.
*heart hurt, not “heart heart” obviously. My apologies for the error
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I’m exhilarated to hear Sulu being gay and totally agree with you about canon vs. new timeline. However, I must say you still haven’t answered one crucial issue which George Takei pointed out, Simon.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Takei heard about “a gay Sulu” plan from John Cho a year ago and he expressed his objection already at that point. Then, you sent Takei an email a few months ago, highly praising Takei’s LGBT advocacy but NO word about making Sulu gay and thus declining Takei’s suggestion.
Only after Takei expressed his disappointment in public, you stated your shock and justified your reasoning as “we chose Sulu because of George”. But IMHO, you should’ve known that your decision was against Takei’s intention from the first place. Or, did you automatically thought “Takei’s going to be glad if Sulu’s a gay because he’s gay” without really consulting him at all?
I appreciate if you can answer my quesiton. LLAP
Alternate reality means there are comparisons… both reality are shown in the story or film. I remember jj calling it reboot. What a mess.
So brave and furious to do and create something new but insist on riding the known character… what’s to be proud of?
I know… you dont care.
That is the problem.
You make some excellent points. And I have to wonder, why not Kirk? He seems the most likely character to be pansexual due to his promiscuity.
In all of this discussion, I think many people are forgetting about some really progressive work done on TNG. The Outcast was an excellent and emotional episode where Riker falls in love with an individual whose society shuns gender of any type, Riker risks his life and career to save her from reconditioning, only to be crushed in the end. When you and others say “finally!”, it seems as though hundreds of episodes in several series are simply being ignored.
The best science fiction takes a current situation and explores it in a futuristic context. Star Trek VI did this very well with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war. The original series had episodes such as “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” where racism was explored.
That other forms of sexuality than hetero are acceptable in the 23rd and 24th century human societies has always seemed like a given in Star Trek. That goes along the lines of the mixed nationalities of the bridge crew, the acceptance of other species.
Since the original pilot, Star Trek has always been conflicted between two types of stories. There’s the cerebral, intellectual evaluation of our own society through the lens of another more advanced one. And then there is the shoot em up phaser battle, a fast-and-furious barrage of action with little regard for intellect. Roddenberry had to change from the pilot to include more fist-fights and action in order to get the network to accept the show. I worry that as we head further down that path, something important will be lost that captured the minds of so many fans.
I really respect and enjoy your writing and acting, particularly the work with Nick Frost. Your portrayal of Scotty is wonderful and offered some of the best comedy in the recent films. Although I disagree with your decision, I really appreciate all the work you put into Star Trek and I hope that Justin Lin is capable of creating a movie that is enjoyable to both normals and Trekkies alike.
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Hm, I’ve been watching this debate swirl for a while now and can’t resist the temptation to add my two cents.
First of all, to be clear, I’m *extremely* glad to have a canon LGBTQ+ character on Trek at last (with no take-backsies, no Trill pseudo-hetero justifications, no weird metaphors, etc). Thank you for that– from the bottom of my heart. As a bi and trans person, it means a lot. We’ve been waiting for a long time.
And Sulu is not a bad choice. George Takei, wonderful as he is, doesn’t have exclusive rights over the character (and frankly I wish he hadn’t made such strong statements about Sulu being straight, for a lot of reasons). And as for the “closeted” thing… psh, come on! Hasn’t anybody heard of bisexuality?
That said, I don’t think Sulu is the *best* choice, either. The problem is that for decades now, the Star Trek fandom has been full of “gay Sulu” jokes and memes. While some of those jokes were funny/positive, many of them got uncomfortably homophobic. Personally, I’ll have a hard time shaking that association now that it’s canon.
And second… well, to be blunt, making Sulu queer carries the least risk and least benefit of any major character. He is already associated in the public imagination with LGBTQ+ identity through George Takei. (And I’m willing to bet that George is not fond of the public perception that the characters he plays must necessarily be gay, which might explain some of his resistance to this idea.) Establishing any of the other bridge crew members as LGBTQ+ would present a significant challenge to the “assume straight until proven otherwise” mentality. (Establishing any of them as trans hasn’t been mentioned much in the general debate, I note.)
All in all, this is cause for celebration. Still, a part of me wishes that modern Trek would really blast some new holes in the status quo, instead of just paying homage to all those who did so before.
Grateful, moved, and looking forward to the film. I was raised on TNG and all the rest and I was surprised to find myself tearing up when I first read the news. I understand GT’s feelings on the matter, but saying that we are not only get to be there, but we always have been means so much.
Please know that not all of the LGBT community is unhappy abut making Sulu gay. I was overjoyed when I first heard about it and was shocked by GT’s continued response. I receive it with the kindness and respect you intended. In fact, before I knew which character you chose, I guessed Sulu. It makes the most sense and is a beautiful homage to GT. Thank you for being an ally and making a personal dream of mine come true. So many before you have had this opportunity and passed on it . I appreciate that someone finally did it. Frankly, Star Trek may have started out from one mans’ vision, but has long since taken from so many others.
The bottom line: We finally have a gay character on Star Trek! Thank you. Let’s turn the focus to more important things.
I still think it’s a wholly unnecessary addition, and feel like it rings too much of “look this guy was gay all along”. Yes the LGBT community would like more representation, but we’re talking about existing characters here, so the last thing anyone wants is for representation through meddling as it can feel forced. So does a lot of inclusion of course, where a guy kissing another guy becomes a tick-box to prove gay credentials, rather than a natural part of the story development; the best gay characters don’t rub your face in it or cause scandal, they’re just there and feel like they’re meant to be there, no-one wants to be represented through token-black-guy syndrome.
I’ll reserve final judgement until I’ve seen the film of course, but I’m concerned that the way this fits into the alternate timeline sets a poor precedent; after all this isn’t a “proper” reboot, it’s portrayed as an alternate timeline triggered by Nero. This means that these are supposed to be exactly the same characters that were in the original series, so if Sulu was straight in one timeline, and is gay in this one, then that suggests that canonically his sexuality is environmental which I find an uncomfortable implication; one I’m sure is accidental but still.
I was the first to defend you guys and I love and approve what you did with Sulu. I have nothing to say against that and I don’t even think it contradicts canon. It seems people forget that ‘B’ in the LGBT, btw.
That said, I respect Takei too and it makes me feel uncomfortable to see a gay man of color being told he is wrong in his feelings (not really by the cast but that seems to be the reaction of many fans) when it seems you guys were the ones who asked for his input, to begin with.
We have to take a step back, IMO, and we can’t be angry with George just because his reaction is not the one we, maybe, took for granted and he isn’t feeling thankful for the homage. This just proves how complex some things are.
One point: I’m glad you guys talk about the Kelvin timeline being AU now and I agree with the whole reasoning. But the thing is, honestly it seemed to me that for months you guys are kind of glossing over this being an alternate reality and the changes made by JJ&co, and you keep talking about this having to be like tos and how to restore the character dynamics like they were in tos e.g., pushing to have kirk/spock/bones only even if JJ made a Kirk/UHURA/Spock trio; pretending that Spock and Mccoy have the same ‘roles’ (eg the whole angel devil at Kirk’s side), in spite of these movies really nor having that id-ego-superego thing with the characters because Kirk is the heart and the one clashing with Spock’s logic too, and Spock (that JJ&co made an equal protagonist with Kirk so he isn’t just kirk’s friend) is not just cold logic and at times, he has more heart than Kirk and Bones combined.
For months, I never read any of you acknowledge some of JJ’s modern changes like elevating Uhura at the original trio level, or making Spock/Uhura canon (that is interracial thus representation for many fans who are poc, especially women of color who are never portrayed as love interests. The fact she is black made it controversial for some fans and Orci himself had to defend Uhura when he talked with some fans and read them saying bigoted things about her and her actress). That was a relationship that maybe Roddenberry himself set up in the series and wanted to explore, but at the time the forced Kirk/Uhura kiss was the most progressive trek could get. Point is, it really was BIG for JJ&co to do what they did with Uhura and it meant a lot to many people. It rubs me a bit in the wrong way that the ONE time you are aknoveledging a meaningful thing JJ did with these characters is to essentially say that maybe they don’t have a serious exclusive relationship with each other in spite of the movies portraying them like that? (*the whole dynamic about pon farr as well as other things in canon might give a clue about the fact vulcans are not too inclined to share their mate, lol!) I don’t get how it is really necessary to say that in order to defend the choice to make Sulu lgbt.
You making a joke that everyone is gay is undermining the point and what you did with Sulu a bit, tbh. That said, I do get what you mean. I think in the trek reality some things are moot points anyway because no one is going to care about some things. This doesn’t mean that straight people don’t exist, just that it wouldn’t be a point or something the characters think about or define themselves with. Just like no one should care about humans dating aliens. When Kirk saw Spock kissing Uhura, for example, hopefully he wasn’t surprised because of some prejudice about her, a human, dating a Vulcan, but rather his comical reaction was due to him being taken aback by the fact that a seemingly cold dude like Spock does have a loving girlfriend who is the same woman he was interested into himself. The surprise for him (and the audience) was discovering that the man loves and has a private life, the race or gender of his significant other was not even a point, or shouldn’t be.
Discovering that Sulu has a male partner and family might have the same comical effect on his friends just because he maybe never talks about his private life and they see him all business about his job; they wouldn’t be surprised because his partner is not a girl, but rather that he has a private life, to begin with. And we should feel the same, we should simply be happy that Sulu has something outside of his job because, really, if there was something original trek failed about maybe was ending it all with all the characters being too defined by their job and them seemingly being never really allowed to have personal lives too. We should find it healthy that they don’t, that this cool job they have is not their whole life. It’s not off topic or irrelevant, it just makes the characters more real.
Just my two cents. (english is not my main language)
Wait, so that means the Kelvin timeline can be altered prior to the events resulting from Spock’s timetravel… What does that mean for the events in ST : Enterprise ?
Considering that fact that you are a white male, you failed to realize another monumental issue that has plagued male Asian-American actors for quite some time now.
Asian-American actors have been emasculated in Hollywood media. They are rarely seen as a leading man who can get the girl. They are mostly regulated to martial arts, bad guy, comedy, nerd or some foreign speaker with a horrible accent. It is rare to see an Asian male who can be the “leading man.” Someone sexy, strong, masculine and desirable by women.
Another way of emasculating a potentially strong Asian male character would be simply to make them gay.
Am I against homosexuals or gays? Absolutely not! But why not make one of the main white male characters gay?? Why lump the gay/asian minority together and in doing so, you obscure the potential to lift up an underrepresented minority (Asian) and overshadow it with the gay label.
I’m assuming that this did not cross your mind or even appear on your radar. Which is not surprising. Talk to any Asian-American actor or actress and they will tell you horrifying stories of the racist stereotypes and typecasting they are subjected to. Sexy asian female stereotype anyone? It’s not just about sexual preference. Race has a bigger part to play than you may realize.
My only comment is this: – only one LGBT in the whole fucking Universe???!! (Prime or otherwise). Well whoop-di-doo. A tad late don’t ya think?
You are a wonderful human being Mr Pegg. Not that I needed an explanation, but you put it so well that now I have the words to talk to other people about queer Sulu without stumbling so much.
I was so happy about gaysulu idea when i first got the news. then i fell in love with Sulu’s husband&daughter scene. ‘new star trek is doing some equality, diversity, and human rights? wow! finally!’ but after reading your writings and watching other Paramount’s fan event i started to have a doubt it instantly. you seem to have no respect for Takei and other original fans. and, it seems, they made it up urgently for recent events.
you’re trying to make points but it only put me in doubts. you know, claiming diversity after whitewashing Khan is very awkward.
but i hopes it looks good as you said. really.
Wow telling people to go **** off how mature and professional. Guess you’re rich enough that you don’t need my money.
Player one has entered the room.
You can’t please everyone all of the time, what can you do? Go to the pub, have a nice cold pint, and wait for all of this to blow over.
Or on a sensible note, it has all been done. If you are happy with the end result and it hasn’t p*ssed too many people off, well then hey! Enjoy it, as I’m sure the rest of us folk will.
All the best to you and the gallant cast and crew.
Jim Neighbors playing a Marine. George Takei playing a StarShip Officer. why in the heck must their sexuality ‘in the character portrayed’ even be an issue, much less a bit of fluff for a story line, circa 2016?
I feel (like some others) that it’s a 50-year-old ‘outing’ of George Takei. Bad Form, in my opinion. The character is not the man, the man is not the character. Crossing the streams is bad, there’s no Venn Diagram available that’s meaningful.
Actually, it is you that should take a look in the mirror.
The arrogance to lecture George Takei (a man who felt he had to stay in the closet until he was elderly) about the meaning of Star Trek?! This whole thing is a patently snide attempt to draw attention to this obviously god awful film you have written.
Making Sulu gay is INCREDIBLY condescending. “Hey, Mr. Takei! Yo dawg, we heard you like dicks, so we pimped your Sulus dick with some more dicks cause we heard you like dick!”
I’m a liberal guy and at my wits end with empty headed morons like you, Mr. Pegg. You don’t have a thought in your head it would seem that you didn’t see someone else say on Buzzfeed or some similarly worthless clickbait site.
You make parody films, and have clearly made another one.
Let’s not forget that Sulu had a daughter in the non-Kelvin universe…
I suppose that there can’t be ugly or fat people in the future even though there are LGBT folks…
Please quit trying to justify your “warping” of the timeline in an effort to please 5% of the population and social pressure.
I’m not totally satisfied by the reality shift explanation; up until this point, the assumption could be that this was a time travel story, not a full reboot. Now there is fundamentally no difference between this alternative universe and any other reworking of a story.
Does that matter? Well lets look at the storytelling constraints that exist with a reboot vs a time travel story.
In the time travel story, every deviation from a previous cause of events is automatically meaningful, something has changed because of the events we saw. Every new film increases the significance of the events of the “first” film, because it suggests that events have changed because of events that the main characters were intimately involved with.
It doesn’t need to directly flow from their decisions, as Nero’s appearance and actions could have a lot of knock on effects, including into events occurring in their early childhoods, but it is more interesting if it does.
You can write stories that to those unfamiliar with the original timeline seem to be entirely self contained, but which alter details of the past in ways that validate the cannon knowledge of the hardcore fans.
That’s basically free content, you can speak to one set of fans through parallelism and reference while also having a surface level that everyone can enjoy.
Obviously that kind of implication isn’t working so well here, “time travel changed his sexuality” etc. although I don’t think there would be a problem even with that story idea, because there’s interesting discussions that you can have there too. The core problem is that George Takai didn’t agree. In the absence of the real world actor’s blessing, especially if the character’s sexuality is based on his, “time travel changed his sexuality” changes from something that has weird background implications, but is essentially harmless, into an impression of external narrative necessities imposing themselves on a character in contradiction to their nature, a classic marker of bad writing, even if it is actually well written. The idea of the sexuality being somehow imposed on the actor carries across to the character. Which is a shame.
I can’t see much way out of it now, you will probably have to ditch the “ponder how this is different to the original timeline and how we ended up there” potential because of the way that would imply things about this event. Maybe you can get back to it in like 10 years or something though, when this specific event has worked itself out, possibly in time for a big complicated overlap story involving Q, a Picard looking inexplicably exactly the same, and probably some voyager and enterprise types involved with time police.
Your clarification is worth… one quarter portion.
The one thing I have discovered during my 40 years of Star Trek fandom is just how much like a religion it can be for fans. I have met a diverse group of fans at Star Trek conventions over the years and I was surprised how many of them were Social Conservative Christians who stood in opposition everything that Gene Roddenberry’s Secular Humanist philosophy championed on Star Trek. I lost friends in the Star Trek community when I supported Obama in 2008. They warned me that Obama was a Kenyan Muslim atheist who planned to put all good straight white Christians into FEMA camps. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see the vitriol leveled at Simon Pegg and Star Trek Beyond for introducing the fact that Sulu is Gay or Bi in the Kelvin universe. Obviously, these so-called Star Trek fans are attracted to the franchise for reasons I cannot fathom as I cannot disconnect the Progressive Philosophy of the franchise from the entertainment aspect. I guess it is like the Christian community which has a diverse range of views on who Christ was and on the status of the Bible as Holy Writ. We have @ 3000 denominations of Christianity in the world all claiming to be the One True Way. It looks like we have several different denominations of Star Trek fans all claiming to follow the original intent of The Great Bird of the Galaxy but who actually are just projecting their wants and needs onto a man they never knew except through myth stories and the episodes of TOS and TNG. Based on Roddenberry’s own writings and speeches, he was a Secular Humanist who believed that humankind would progress past the petty prejudices of our current era. How some fans can get Ayn Rand or St. Paul out of Star Trek is a mystery. Kudos to Simon Pegg for returning Star Trek to its TOS roots with this inclusive message of love, tolerance and understanding. It is the essence of IDIC that makes Star Trek so different from the other sci-fi franchises out there that have a dystopian view of humanity’s future. I can’t wait to see Star Trek Beyond. I have a feeling it is going to be the best movie Trek since First Contact. Boldly Go!
I love how you say that “we chose Sulu because of George” but then didn’t think of ask his opinion about it until it was all over and done with, with no possibility of change. “You’re going to get our homage whether you like it or not” is a funny way of showing your esteem for someone.
Also, if you wanted Sulu to have a relationship with a man without cancelling his TOS persona completely, why not just have him bi- or pansexual? Cover all bases, problem solved.
with you involved I have complete faith,
that the (nu-trek) universe will unfold as it should,
to paraphrase Spock prime.
Remember: Logic is just the beginning of wisdom, not the end of it
– vision is also required.
Speaking of which… I had one the other day:
You, Mr.Pegg, and the rest of the ‘Cornetto-Gang’, after a bit of
collective soul searching, go ahead and finally give us the
definitive (i.e. british) take on
‘Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency’.
No doubt, there will be much rejoicing all over the soon bereft and
rather sad fragments of Europe.
But regardless – it’s always a joy to watch You in anything.
My best wishes to You and Your family.
Your work is greatly appreciated.
First: Who cares. Sulu has always been a bit gayish. Again, who cares.
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You are amazing. I look at everything you’ve done in your career and I’m in awe. You are seriously my inspiration to be better at the things I love doing. And now you’re part of a franchise that I’ve loved for more than 20 years of my life, and not only have you absolutely killed it as one of the most iconic characters in sci-fi, but you’ve had a hand in making that universe better, more inclusive, and even closer to Gene’s original vision than ever. I may not know you, I understand that you’re just a guy, just a flawed human like the rest of us, but you are my hero. Thank you so much for what you’ve done. Love you.
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Social Justice Warrior ruin everything.
Another franchise bites the dust.
Simon, I completely disagree – and it’s from a different perspective.
For the only major Asian character on the ST canon, making Sulu LGBT is a complete slap in the face on Asians. It continues the major undercurrent that Asian males to be non-threatening to whites in Hollywood movies. They never should get the girl, white or Asian.
Why didn’t you make Kirk LGBT ? Or Scotty ? You want to shake up the canon ?
Go and make one of the white characters go LGBT.
Mr. Pegg with all the respect in the world, made a mistake and should accept it and not walk justified by the damage he did, because the truth did much damage to one of the best franchises to turn Gay Mr Zulu in a real mockery all followers of the saga.
“Those who have whined about the secret agenda of the liberal left, spreading ungodly perversions, through the evil mouthpiece of homosexual Hollywood, can go fuck themselves”
No, please go fuck yourself. You successfully polluted a franchise that I have loved since childhood, with the filth of homosexuality. Congratulations, you’re a fucking asshole. So, really, please go fuck yourself…
Thank you, Simon.
Really thank you.
For this explanation.
For your dedicated care of the script and for all the trek you just put inside.
It really reaches the hearth.
I can surely tell that your choices are very well thought, to me.
And the result is … well … as someone stated earlier … the Sistine Chapel of the trek movie history.
I cried twice. And I’m 35.
I thought I could not do that again and then … I found what I was looking for for the 50th anniversary of something that changed my life.
You’re an amazing and talented artist.
Godspeed for your life, as an artist.
You deserve it.
I think the whole premise that Sulu was born before Nero arrived is wrong. Pegg was likely misled by Sulu’s wikipedia article which until recently said that Sulu was born in 2230, which would be before Nero’s arrival (and Kirk’s birth) in 2233. The wikipedia page has since been edited, but you can see how the page looked on July 10 at http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hikaru_Sulu&oldid=729144238 — in this older version of the page Sulu was said to have been born June 24 2230, but the reference given is to a book from 1980 called “The U.S.S. Enterprise Officer’s Manual” which was actually written by a fan named Geoffrey Mandel, who since became a production artist for Trek shows and movies but at the time had no official connection to the show. The book is available online at http://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/USS-Enterprise-Officers-Manual.php and you can see that it has some other dates that definitely conflict with canon, like putting Kirk’s birth in the year 2229. Also, Sulu’s page on the Star Trek wiki “Memory Alpha” mentions that the book “Star Trek Chronology” conjecture that Sulu was born in 2237, so that’s probably as close to an official date as we’re going to get since that book was written by TNG technical consultant Michael Okuda along with his wife Denise Okuda, and Okuda (along with Rick Sternbach) was largely in charge of making sure writers didn’t mess up on their Trek continuity or treknobabble.
Just saw Beyond and I’m torn, sir Simon. Not about Sulu or any of the alternate universe concerns, but about “canon” from another perspective, and one that is equally at the heart of the entire ST universe: looking deeply, critically, and often with a good deal of humor at human issues. I really loved the film, found it funny, and the touch backs to the old characters was moving. What this one faultered on was something that the ST series has been famous for: up-ending moral and cultural certitude. And here I am speaking about what seemed to me to be the important thread in the film: the struggle for identity and how we can lose ourselves when our world no longer contains the familiar to stabilize our sense of self. I know that modern movie-making tends to amp up the action, often sacrificing intimacy and reflection. I missed the mirror in this film; I felt like Kirk’s and Krall’s story are so important, that Krall’s was cautionary to Kirk’s own feelings of loss and alienation. I wanted there to be more of that in the film; that felt like the heart and soul of what the story was about… but it seemed rushed to explanation and nearly glossed over at the end. I just wanted there to be more reflection. It’s a monumental film with amazing effects, sterling acting, and tight story and editing. Thank you for giving me a wonderful, wild ride through the galaxy!
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The next Star Trek film will be a time travel film with Kirk meeting his father the film can
start in kelvin timeline with the new enterprise-a and at end off the when Kirk s father returns to his time history changes so there was no Nero , Vulcan was never destroyed
and spook and uhura never dated history has been changed and film ends in prime timeline with a prime enterprise. With hints that there my be a few small and few big changes to prime universe because off it. And they have no memory of kelvin timeline .
Chekhov is on special assignment in both timelines and jaylah has replaced him on the bridge in both timelines.
I seemed to be too wrapped up in the wonder of the movie to even notice the issue of this discussion. I had to watch more than once to notice. I love the subtle differences of the new timeline. I am not sure I would watch otherwise. I would like to see more of Scotty!
Thank you for explaining; however, I believe anyone in a twist over this needs to move from their parent’s basement, immediately. This is freaking entertainment, and I thank you, Simon, for entertaining me both on screen, and in this entry.
As for GT… I love(d) George, and Brad too. However, they seem to have sold their souls (or maybe soles) for click-bait posts. They were cool, but are now Internet whores. With that, GT has lost his right to bitch about anything.
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You wonder how Donald Trump got elected. Well here’s how. We’re sick of your shit. There’s a whole shit load of people tired of having to view what you sick fucks want to make normal. Rather than jump up and down and protest it, we just sit back and ignore your stupidity. And without advertising dollars you and your nonsense go away. We have the money Sorry about your luck cunt.
Simon Pegg made the worst ST film I have ever seen.