Apparently, gay people exist in the Star Trek future after all. And it doesn't have to be the Mirror Universe, or a Trill, or whatever other way the franchise has sidestepped it over the years.
John Cho, who plays Hikaru Sulu in the latest films, says his character will be coming out of the closet in "Star Trek: Beyond."
"I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out of it," Cho told the Herald Sun during the Australian premiere of "Beyond" overnight Thursday. It's the kind of way he hopes "we are going as a species, to not politicize one's personal orientations."
Early plot details of "Beyond" reveal Sulu will once again talk about his daughter, a character that was actually introduced as Demora played by Jacqueline Kim in 1994's "Star Trek: Generations." But even that film never talked about a wife or any other relationships Sulu may have had during his career in Starfleet.
"Beyond" writers Simon Pegg and Doug Jung are fixing that in the new movie, where they will reportedly give Sulu not only his daughter, but also a husband.
The movie apparently is a nod to the character's originator, George Takei, who came out in 2005 during the same-sex marriage political battle in California.
J.J. Abrams, who directed the first two films in the refreshed franchise but stepped back to take on just a producer role in "Beyond," hinted back in 2011 that he would work to add a gay character to the franchise, something that in 50 years has come in very short supply.
"There are many people who say there have been gay characters in the show all throughout," Abrams told NewNowNext reporter Michael Jensen five years ago. "I would say that is, you know, something that I would love to do, but just the way I would be careful doing a story that would involve any of the characters and their personal lives. The balance is always how does that story relate to sort of the bad guy, which by the way is always going to be that critical thing, what are they up against? The question how do you get into literally these personal sexual lives characters? Like, what is that going to be about?"
At the time, Abrams promised Jensen he would work to try and include a gay character in the next film, which ultimately became "Star Trek: Into Darkness" in 2013, but it didn't happen. It seems now, however, that has changed.
Since coming out, Takei has been on the forefront of the equality fight. When California allowed same-sex marriages for the first time in 2008, he and later husband Brad Altman were the first to apply for a license. He has since promoted various social media campaigns like "It's OK to be Takei" and more recently, the "You Can Pee Next to Me" in regards to the attempts to block members of the transgender community from using the restrooms corresponding to the gender they identify with.
"Star Trek: Beyond" premieres July 22. Directed by Justin Lin, it stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban and Zoe Saldana.