Mr. Hikaru Sulu, played in the modern Star Trek films by actor John Cho, is being revealed as gay in the next film, Star Trek Beyond. When we pick up the story of the crew of the USS Enterprise, Sulu is depicted as a father with a same-sex partner and a daughter. While it's a fact, it's done very casually, with no fanfare - it's just there, something Cho appreciated.
"I liked the approach, which was not to make a big thing out of it," Cho told the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun during the press tour for the film. "[That] is where I hope we are going as a species, to not politicize one's personal orientations."
The change comes as a nod by writer (and fellow star) Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin to the original portrayer of Sulu, George Takei. The actor, long after playing the character in the original television series and in films, didn't officially come out as gay until 2005. As an Asian-American gay man in the 60s, if he had been open, he would not have been able to work as an actor, he has said.
Sulu has been depicted in the new version of the Star Trek universe as a strong, daring leader, willing to literally jump into action, and capable of working as a bold acting captain when Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) is away. Now, he'll also be depicted as a loving father, who happens to be homosexual. This is the first out gay character ever in the Star Trek screen franchise, and notably beats another franchise, Star Wars with a gay character openly depicted on screen. That franchise has had openly gay characters in novels, but never on the big screen.
Star Trek Beyond hits theaters July 22, 2016.