In Star Trek Beyond, fans will find out a bit more about the life of John Cho’s Sulu beyond his work on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Turns out when he’s not exploring space, Hikaru Sulu is raising a daughter with his husband back home, according to Australia’s Herald Sun. Yes, Sulu is gay, and Cho explained that the character detail is a sweet tribute to George Takei, the gay actor and LGBT advocate who originally played the character.
In the interview, Cho notes that the information is thankfully not doled out with any sort of handwringing. “I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out it, which is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicise one’s personal orientations,” Cho tells the Herald Sun.
Star Trek, of course, has a long history of progressive politics, but its TV shows and films have lacked an openly gay lead character, though some storylines have alluded to LGBT themes. Though Gene Roddenberry reportedly discussed including gay and lesbian crew members in Star Trek: The Next Generation, it never happened, and an episode that was to serve as an AIDS allegory was never officially made. Now some fans are circulating a petition to encourage the upcoming series from Bryan Fuller to feature an LGBT captain. But however that works out, the Enterprise crew seemed long overdue for a gay crew member, and honoring Takei is a great way to do that.