Star Trek has broken boundaries during its over 50 years of life on television and in film. Recently, the newest iteration contained the first male-on-male same sex kiss in franchise history. Anthony Rapp, who was involved in the momentous scene, recently opened up on his thoughts on Star Trek: Discovery including it. According to Rapp, it was actually important that the kiss come when it did, as the build-up of the relationship was just as important, and it led to the kiss in a more natural way. In Rapp's words...
If it had happened earlier, it probably wouldn't have had the same meaning. I appreciated the relationship was revealed in subtle ways, it was part of the fabric of the ship. The Trek community has a vibrant LGBT+ segment to it, and people were really gratified that it was presented in a direct, uncomplicated and human way.
Same sex relationships and on-screen kisses are not new to television, and they're not entirely new to Star Trek. The original series was actually the first to ever show an interracial kiss on television, which was beyond groundbreaking. Then, years later, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine featured a same sex relationship between mirror universe versions of Ezri and Kira. Now, the franchise has taken another step forward. The new series waited until several episodes into its first season run to show the kiss, and while it could have happened much sooner, Anthony Rapp tells Attitude magazine that he's happy with the fact that it wasn't pushed earlier in the season. From his perspective, the show allowed the relationship between his Lieutenant Stamets and partner Dr. Hugh Culber (played by Wilson Cruz) to grow in a way that made it feel real. When the kiss finally happened, it was simple and more human, which Rapp feels the audience would appreciate.
Star Trek has always been viewed as an optimistic and forward-thinking version of humanity's potential future, which is part of why the series' lack of gay representation has been an issue for fans and advocates. The fact that gay relationships weren't portrayed as much on the show, prevented it from being seen as normal. Since gay relationships are only becoming more accepted in reality, it only made sense that it would be no big deal by the time we're traveling the stars.
Recently, however, this lack of representation began to change. Prior to the gay relationship being a part of Star Trek: Discovery, the J.J. Abrams-produced film series saw John Cho's Sulu be revealed as gay. While George Takei, who played Sulu in the original Star Trek wasn't a fan of the change to the Sulu character, he completely endorsed the inclusion of Anthony Rapp's character on Discovery.
Star Trek: Discovery's first batch of episodes is currently available to view on CBS All Access. The second half of Season 1 begins tonight on the platform.
Correction: A previous version of this article claimed this was the first ever same sex kiss. In fact, it's the first ever male-on-male same sex kiss.