He may not be “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry, but son Rod Roddenberry probably knew him best.
And days after a minor controversy erupted over the “outing” of John Cho’s Hikaru Sulu in the upcoming “Star Trek: Beyond,” the younger Roddenberry said including a gay character in Star Trek is something his father would’ve been behind.
“I think he would be 100 percent in favor of a gay character in Star Trek,” Roddenberry told the Associated Press. “There’s so much going on in the world today. I think he would love any sort of social issue being brought into Star Trek.”
Roddenberry is a co-executive producer on the upcoming Star Trek television series planned for the streaming service CBS All Access. His company, Roddenberry Entertainment, also is a former co-owner of 1701News, divesting his interest the day before his role in the new Trek television series was announced.
Cho revealed Sulu’s sexuality in an interview this past week during a “Beyond” premiere in Australia. However Sulu’s originator, openly gay actor George Takei, has spoken against the character development, calling it “unfortunate” and against what the older Roddenberry had intended for Sulu.
“In a way, it’s George’s character,” Roddenberry added. “I can understand why he feels strongly about it. I don’t see why everyone is bickering about it. It’s about fucking time. Let’s just do it.”
Introducing Sulu as Star Trek’s first openly gay character has apparently inspired at least one journalist to come out. Jacob Hall, a writer with /Film, said the merging of Trek and the LGBT community gave him the courage to finally public come out as bisexual. Before Cho’s announcement regarding Sulu, Hall said he would find some solace in the character of Spock.
“When I battled suicidal depression, I yearned for his ability to stifle emotions and live a life built on logic,” Hall wrote in an opinion piece. “When I watched him struggle between his Vulcan and human halves, and how he had one foot in two worlds and was forced to make his contradictory existence work, I was reminded of my own dark truths. I was bisexual, and was aware of this from a young age. When I wasn’t confused, I was angry. Surely something was wrong with me. I shouldn’t be having these feelings. I should be like other people.”
After the news broke about Sulu, Hall said he could feel the “dam crumbling almost instantly.”
“Star Trek had finally gone where it had never gone before, and I couldn’t help but feel swept up in it all, both as a longtime fan of the franchise and as a bisexual man,” Hall said. “It was like fate: There would never be a more Jacob Hall-friendly moment to come out.”
Hall says he feels like a weight has been lifted from his chest.
“I feel like I can breathe for the first time in over 20 years,” he said. “For the first time in my entire life, I feel like me when I go outside or send a tweet or write some piece of movie news. This is the power of representation — it lends courage to those who need it, and perspective to everyone else.”
Hall added that it’s time to make Iron Man a black woman, and to “bring on” the lady Ghostbusters.
“If any of those characters can make anyone else in the world feel like I do now, then I welcome all future diversity in movies, television, comics and video games with open arms,” Hall said. “This matters. Seeing little shards of yourself in your heroes matters.”
“Star Trek: Beyond” opens July 22.