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Simon Pegg Disagrees With George Takei, Defends Sulu Being Gay In Star Trek

Star Trek Beyond

The news that a member of the current Enterprise crew would be revealed as gay was likely expected to be a somewhat controversial announcement. However, it's unlikely many were expecting the controversy to be between the script writer and the man who used to play the character. Yesterday, we learned that in Star Trek Beyond John Cho's Sulu will turn out to be gay. Since then, one of the most critical voices of this decision has been the original Sulu, George Takei himself. Now, Beyond's screenwriter Simon Pegg has defended the decision, saying that it was important that the first LGBT character in the Star Trek universe needed to be somebody that the audience already knew.

When George Takei made his public comments regarding the idea of Sulu as gay, his primary criticism was that making Sulu gay was making a significant change to the world that Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry had built. He would have preferred that they create a new character for the films who was gay. Simon Pegg, who wrote the screenplay for Star Trek Beyond along with his duties of playing Scotty, told The Guardian that it was important that the first gay character in the series be somebody audiences were already familiar with, as it would allow them to simply incorporate this one facet of who the character was into their already existing relationship.

Justin Lin, Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic. Also, the audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning (at least in the Kelvin timeline), that a gay hero isn't something new or strange. It's also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted, why would he need to be? It's just hasn't come up before.

In regards to George Takei's primary criticism, that this makes a change to Gene Roddenberry's creation, Simon Pegg says that he doesn't believe the reason that the entire Enterprise crew was straight was because of an artistic vision, but rather because the time period in which the series was being produced forced him to do so. He also says there's a problem in simply creating a new character, as doing that would essentially be tokenism. Making a new character who is gay makes that person "the gay character." By using somebody who the audience already has a relationship with, Sulu doesn't become the gay character, he's just Sulu, who so happens to be gay, in the same way that Kirk happens to be straight.

While we don't know the exact circumstances of how the audience will learn about the fact that Star Trek Beyond's Sulu is gay, John Cho has said that it's a very matter-of-fact moment. The film doesn't draw attention to it, because in the film's future setting, the fact simply isn't that important. It's just who he is.

It's unfortunate that this issue has become such a divisive one among people who all care about Star Trek. Nobody here is really "wrong." It's clear that both sides really want to see what's best for the franchise, they just have differing opinions about how to do that.

Star Trek Beyond hits theaters July 22.

Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.