George Takei Sets The Record Straight On Being “Disappointed” W/ Gay Sulu

George Takei is setting “the record ‘straight’.”

Last week, his comments that he was “disappointed” by the fact that his old character Sulu was gay in the new Star Trek film caused an almighty rift in the Trekkie fanbase.

Was he right to want the character to stay the same, how Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry visualised him? Or was he betraying the LGBT community who at last had the queer character they deserved in Star Trek, which is apparently what Roddenberry wanted but thanks to social constraints, was unable to do so?

Unfortunately, Roddenberry died in 1991, so he’s unable to answer.

But John Cho – who plays Sulu in the rebooted franchise – told PEDESTRIAN.TV last week that the decision to make Sulu gay was a “Valentine” to Takei, who came out publicly in 2005. And writer Simon Pegg (who also plays Scotty of “beam me up” fame) said it was a “homage” to Takei, and was in line with what Roddenberry wanted.

And on top of all that, Zachary Quinto – who plays Spock in the film, and is openly gay – told P.TV that he was “disappointed by the fact that George was disappointed,” and wasn’t happy with the idea that any LGBT person could take issue “with the normalised and positive portrayal of members of our community in Hollywood and in mainstream blockbuster cinema.”

In response to all this controversy, Takei has taken to Facebook to clarify his comments.

“When the news first broke, I gave a lengthy telephone interview, but the headlines have been misleading,” he wrote. “Apparently, controversy makes for better sales! Let me be clear: I am not disappointed that there is a gay character in Star Trek. On the contrary, as I made clear, I am delighted that the Star Trek franchise has addressed this issue, which is truly one of diversity. It is thrilling to know that future generations will not see LGBTs go wholly unrepresented in the Trek universe.”

Takei explains and clarifies his comments as being about respecting Roddenberry’s original characters, vision and storytelling, rather than about his own connection to the character.

“Gene had wanted long ago to include LGBT characters, and we spoke personally and specifically about the lack of them,” wrote Takei. “Gene understandably felt constrained by the sensitivities of the time. Some fifty years ago, even TV’s first interracial kiss, between Kirk and Uhura, caused our ratings to plummet as the show was censored across much of the South for that scene. Gene made a conscious decision to make the main characters heterosexual, and worked within those parameters to tell incredible stories that still challenged many cultural values of the time. So the lack of gay characters was not some oversight by him; it was a conscious decision with which he grappled. I loved Gene as a friend, and I respected his decision and the context under which he created these stories. On this 50th year anniversary of Star Trek, my hope was to honour his foresight and bravery, as well as his ability to create discussion and diversity despite these constraints.”

He ends by congratulating Pegg and wishing Cho well, and says that while he would have chosen to develop an entirely new character, “I do fully understand and appreciate what they are doing – as ever, boldly going where no one has gone before.”

You can read his entire post below.

Photo: Star Trek.