Star Trek's Bryan Fuller Explains How Deep Space Nine Paved The Way For LGBTQ+ Representation In Discovery

Garak in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on Paramount+
(Image credit: Paramount+)

Star Trek is a franchise that prides itself on diversity, and from the beginning, it has worked to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to representation and creating a picture of an idealized society for its audience. Discovery furthered that approach when it helped established Stamets and Culber as the franchise’s first out and about same-sex couple, and the first kiss between gay characters. But co-creator Bryan Fuller is paying credit where it's due in saying that Deep Space Nine helped pave the way for LGBTQ+ representation long before. 

Bryan Fuller famously exited Star Trek: Discovery before it premiered, but helped bring the final vision to life, and also has extensive experience as a writer on both Voyager and Deep Space Nine. Fuller recently noted he’s proud that Discovery made great strides for inclusion in the franchise, but noted to IndieWire that DS9 also helped facilitate that, saying:

That was something that was very important from the outset is to have explicit representation of queerness. So I’m glad that queer people are finally seeing themselves in ‘Star Trek’ stories in a way that they hadn’t before. But I think queer representation in ‘Star Trek’ really started with ‘Deep Space Nine’ more so than any of the other franchises or shows.

The news that Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featured characters within the LGBTQ+ community isn’t exactly shocking to anyone who watched the show. Jadzia Dax, a Trill host in the series, served as a symbiote and received her host after it was previously attached to a male, which opened the door for encounters with partners who were previously of the same sex. There’s also the Cardassian Garak, who is widely considered by many in the fandom to be gay. 

Bryan Fuller spoke about both of these characters while addressing Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s contributions to LGBTQ+ representation. Fuller, who has been out for most of his career, even added that he considers Garak his favorite Trek character of all time: 

You have the stories with Dax and the taboos of her relationships loving another person from her past as a Trill, but for the modern audiences, we’re seeing queer oppression born out of this narrative. Characters like Garak on Deep Space Nine who, thanks to Andrew Robinson’s fantastic portrayal, explicitly represent a queer character for the first time that I personally think is the best. Garak is my favorite Star Trek character of all time.

Star Trek: Discovery continues to build on the path previously laid by Deep Space Nine, and introduced the franchise’s first non-binary character Adira, as well as its first transgender character, Gray. Had Deep Space Nine not taken the swings and strides that it did decades before, who knows how long it might’ve taken such characters to be introduced?

With all this talk from Bryan Fuller about the progressiveness of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, one has to wonder if he’s not subtly rallying up fans for the series' characters to return to live-action in some way. Alex Kurtzman certainly had fans hopeful something was in the works with his recent comments about a revival, and let’s not forget there’s a comic that recently brought Avery Brooks’ Sisko out of the wormhole. It seems like there’s definitely a chance of something happening, assuming the actors are up for it. 

The recent Star Trek: Lower Decks crossover with Deep Space Nine does instill some hope of the main cast reprising their roles for upcoming Trek projects. With that said, cast members mentioned some time ago they’d have some specific demands for returning, like having former showrunner Ira Steven Behr involved. With no telling what the odds are of that happening, all we can do is continue to champion DS9’s achievements during its original run and hope for more. 

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is available to stream to anyone with a Paramount+ subscription. It’s certainly worth checking out for anyone who hasn’t seen it before, and perfect for anyone who enjoys the sci-fi world's more intense and hectic storylines.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.