Rachel Charlene Lewis
July 21, 2016 7:42 am
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Photofest/Paramount Pictures

John Cho, the actor who plays Hikaru Sulu in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond recently opened up about the decision to portray a romantic relationship between two gay Asian men in the new film. One major reason behind the move was to pay homage to the original Sulu, George Takei, a *major* LGBT actor and activist. The second? To ensure that LGBT Asian people see themselves in film.

It’s totally heartwarming.

But it’s not without some tension. Cho expressed concern that Takei would object to the shift in the character’s sexuality. Elaborating on his worries, he said,

“Now, because he’s an activist and he’s out of the closet ― clearly, this is an homage a little bit to him,” he said. “[I worried] he would object to us taking that from his life and say, ‘Hey, I was a gay actor who created a straight character, and now you’re making him gay because I’ve come out of the closet?’ that we were just seeing him for his sexual orientation.”

If nothing else, this shows the complicated nature of representation.

Paramount / giphy.com

Cho continued on to explain his perspective on the issue, saying,

“I think, narratively, it’s really good. We’re executing Roddenberry’s intent, I think: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. It’s very much a part of the ethos of Star Trek. I have to say, all things considered, it’s working great, and I’m proud of it.”

It’s awesome that this is coming from Cho considering how open he’s been about the need for accurate and authentic representation of Asian men. He was even the star of #StarringJohnCho, a campaign that took over the internet earlier this year to raise awareness of the lack of Asian actors in mainstream media.

We were excited to see that a major film like Star Trek Beyond would feature an LGBT character, and we’re even *more* pumped that it will serve as dual representation for Asian members of the LGBT community. We’re hopeful that this will prove once again that movies that recognize the diversity and intersecting identities of people can, and do, succeed, and that we need *so* many more films that do just that.

Cho summed this up beautifully, saying,

“The best thing I can hope for is that it encourages some gay or lesbian viewer, who is young and doesn’t feel like he or she sees enough of themselves on the screen. So if there’s somebody out there who digs it and feels less afraid, then right on.”

Right on, John Cho. We can’t wait to see the film!