George Takei reacts to gay Sulu news: “I think it’s really unfortunate…”

George Takei on Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry: “He was a strong supporter of LGBT equality,” recalls Takei, now 79. “But he said he has been pushing the envelope and walking a very tight rope — and if he pushed too hard, the show would not be on the air.” 

The Hollwyood Reporter (by Seth Abramovitch):

Star Trek has lived long and prospered for studio home Paramount, spawning six TV series and 13 feature films. True to its title, the latest big-screen outing, Star Trek Beyond, has gone where none have gone before: Star John Cho — who assumes the Sulu mantle for the third time in the reboots — has told Australia’s Herald Sun that the character is revealed to be gay.

The idea came from Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the new films and penned the Beyond screenplay, and director Justin Lin, both of whom wanted to pay homage to Takei’s legacy as both a sci-fi icon and beloved LGBT activist.

And so a scene was written into the new film, very matter-of-fact, in which Sulu is pictured with a male spouse raising their infant child. Pegg and Lin assumed, reasonably, that Takei would be overjoyed at the development — a manifestation of that conversation with Roddenberry in his swimming pool so many years ago.

Except Takei wasn’t overjoyed. He had never asked for Sulu to be gay. In fact, he’d much prefer that he stay straight. “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Takei explains that Roddenberry was exhaustive in conceiving his Star Trek characters. (The name Sulu, for example, was based on the Sulu Sea off the coast of the Philippines, so as to render his Asian nationality indeterminate.) And Roddenberry had always envisioned Sulu as heterosexual.

Proving that is not so simple a matter, however. Sulu never had an onscreen love interest duringStar Trek‘s initial three-season run. He did mention a daughter, Demora, who appeared in 1994’s Star Trek Generations, the seventh film in the series (she was played by Jacqueline Kim).

But the only reference to how Demora was conceived appears in a secondary canonical source: the 1995 Star Trek novel The Captain’s Daughter. “It was, to put it crudely, a one-night stand with a glamazon,” Takei explains. “A very athletic, powerful and stunningly gorgeous woman. That’s Demora’s mother.”

Takei first learned of Sulu’s recent same-sex leanings last year, when Cho called him to reveal the big news. Takei tried to convince him to make a new character gay instead. “I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted.’” (Takei had enough negative experiences inside the Hollywood closet, he says, and strongly feels a character who came of age in the 23rd century would never find his way inside one.)

His timeline logic, however, is enough to befuddle even the most diehard of Trek enthusiasts, as the rebooted trilogy takes place before the action of the original series. In other words, assuming canon orthodoxy, this storyline suggest Sulu would have had to have first been gay and married, only to then go into the closet years later.

Not long after Cho’s bombshell call came another, this one from Lin, again informing him that Sulu was indeed to be gay in Star Trek Beyond. Takei remained steadfastly opposed to the decision.

I said, ‘This movie is going to be coming out on the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, the 50th anniversary of paying tribute to Gene Roddenberry, the man whose vision it was carried us through half a century. Honor him and create a new character. I urged them. He left me feeling that that was going to happen,” Takei says.

After that, all was quiet from Beyond until a few months ago, when Takei received an email from Pegg “praising me for my advocacy for the LGBT movement and for my pride in Star Trek,” he says. “And I thought to myself, ‘How wonderful! It’s a fan letter from Simon Pegg. Justin had talked to him!’” Takei was certain the creative team had rethought their decision to make Sulu gay.

That is until one month ago, when he received an email from Cho informing him that the actor was about to embark on an international media tour for Beyond. Cho said it was bound to come out that his character was gay, and “what should he do?” A disappointed Takei told Cho to go about his promotional duties, but that he was “not going to change” his mind on the matter.

I really tried to work with these people when at long last the issue of gay equality was going to be addressed,” Takei says. “I thought after that conversation with Justin that was going to happen. Months later, when I got that email from Simon Pegg, I was kind of confused. He thinks I’m a great guy? Wonderful. But what was the point of that letter? I interpreted that as my words having been heard.”

Takei for his part is hoping to take Sulu in new directions as well, potentially on CBS’ upcomingStar Trek series, slated to premiere in January and co-run by Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller, who is openly gay.

 

Sulu will be married and gay in ‘Star Trek Beyond’

NBC News:

Star Trek Beyond,” the latest of the “Star Trek” movies, will show Hikaru Sulu with a husband and a daughter, according to a report by Australia-based Herald Sun newspaper.

John Cho, who plays Sulu in the rebooted “Star Trek” movies, told the newspaper that that the decision to reveal Sulu as gay was made by film writer Simon Pegg and director Justin Lin.

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 politicize one’s personal orientations,” he told the newspaper.

He also told the Herald Sun that the decision was a nod to George Takei, who played Sulu in the original 1966 “Star Trek” television series. Takei and his now-husband, Brad Altman, have been together for 29 years.

Sulu will be the first LGBTQ main character in the franchise, which is known for breaking boundaries. The original TV series famously featured American television’s first interracial on-screen kiss in 1968, only a year after anti-miscegenation laws were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward to offer marriage certificates to same-sex couples

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RocketNews 24:

Good news today for supporters of same-sex marriage in Japan! Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward is moving towards administering marriage certificates for same-sex couples. If the proposed plan is enacted, it would take effect on April 1 this year, making Shibuya the first ward in Japan to recognize same-sex marriage.

When discussing social issues in Japan, it’s not uncommon to hear some claim that Japan is a few decades behind other advanced countries. Whether or not that’s true is something that you’ll have to decide for yourself, but Shibuya Ward’s government is getting ready to (potentially) set it among the most progressive of advanced nations.

According to Shibuya’s outline of the initial budget for fiscal 2015, the ward is considering a plan which would create “partnership certificates” for same-sex couples as part of their initiative to advance equality and respect for sexual minorities. An outline of the initiative, which would also make efforts to increase understanding of members of the LGBT community, is in the first section of the budget and would also establish a committee for the advancement of a society with sexual and gender equality and diversity.

The certificates are, of course, getting the most attention, since they have the potential to be a great source of solace for same-sex couples in Japan. As we mentioned in 2013 when Yodogawa Ward in Osaka became the first municipality in Japan to declare support for the LGBT community, same-sex couples face significant systemic discrimination in Japan. Perhaps most distressingly, since they are not legally recognized as married couples, gay men and women may be barred from seeing their partners when hospitalized or from becoming each other’s legal guardian (for example, in the case of an incapacitated senior).

The certificates would not, sadly, be recognized by the Japanese government, but Shibuya Ward would ask local businesses, landlords, and others to recognize the certificates and treat same-sex couples as legally married.

Details of the plan are still being worked out, though the certificates would only be available for those 20 years old or older. This would actually be a bit later than for heterosexual couples, who can marry when 18 or 16 for men or women, respectively, according to Japanese law. Couples will be able to dissolve their partnerships as well, like a divorce, if they want.

Not only is this a potentially great move for same-sex couples in Japan, but it could be a huge boon for Shibuya Ward itself. As Hiroko Tabuchi, a New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, pointed out, this could certainly have economic advantages for Shibuya as well.

While it’s just one ward in one city and the plan has not yet been enacted, it certainly is exciting for the Japanese LGBT community.

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Billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba is sending Chinese gay couples to get married in California

gaychinese

Next Shark:

Alibaba, along with Chinese companies Taobao and Danlan, are doing something extra special for several Chinese gay couples this Valentine’s Day — they’re helping them tie the knot in Los Angeles’ most fabulous town.

Chinese LGBT news site Danlan, along with Blued, China’s leading gay dating app, and three LGBT nonprofits, recently teamed up to hold an online contest to find 10 lucky couples to be awarded with California-based wedding and honeymoon packages. The winning pairs were chosen by 75,000 voting netizens out of more than 400 video submissions of couples telling their love story.

Melanie Lee, a spokesperson for Alibaba, said the contest “hopes to evoke respect and understanding of homosexuality and support the realization of dreams … It’s more of a symbolic kind of gesture.”

West Hollywood Mayor John D’Amico, who lives in WeHo with his partner Keith and their two dogs, will serve as a wedding witness. Gay marriage is illegal in China and the couples’ weddings will not be recognized in their own country, but when love is on the line, you just have to go for it.

This also isn’t the first time Alibaba has launched an LGBT-friendly campaign; last year, they featured a gay couple in their promo video for “Single’s Day” in Asia, according to Shanghaiist.

‘To Be Takei’, A Documentary About ‘Star Trek’ Actor and Social Activist George Takei

 

To Be Takei is an upcoming documentary directed by filmmaker Jennifer M. Kroot that examines the life of actor, activist, and social media icon George Takei. Best known as the USS Enterprise helmsman Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek series, Takei has maintained prominence in recent years as an LGBT activist, popular social media figure, and due to frequent cameo appearances on shows like Futurama and Archer.

The documentary follows the actor’s life from his early years spent in a World War II Japanese American internment camp to his rise as one of the most prominent Asian-American actors on television. The movie is scheduled to release in theaters on August 22nd, 2014.

 

I was the best helmsman in the galaxy — and put to rest all of those stereotypes about Asian drivers.

 

To Be Takei

image via George Takei

Video

George Takei speaks at The National Press Club – Oct. 18, 2013

Here’s Star Trek icon, civil rights activist and social media maestro George Takei speaking on LGBT issues at the National Press Club last week. In his address, he discusses the Supreme Court’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and his role as a leading internet influencer.