George Takei celebrates gay character in upcoming Star Trek series

George Takei has celebrated the introduction of an out gay character in an upcoming Star Trek series.

Last month it was announced that ‘Rent’ actor Anthony Rapp had signed up to play a gay character on upcoming TV series Star Trek: Discovery.

Takei, who played the Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series, had originally said he was disappointed when his character came out as gay in this year’s Star Trek: Beyond series.

But the star later clarified to say he just thought that newly introduced characters would be better off as gay, rather than those originally written as straight.

Takei celebrated that Rapp would be playing the gay character Lieutenant Stamets in the CBS Action series which will air next year.

He tells Variety: “I’m eager to see him.”

“When I was informed they were making Sulu gay, I said, ‘It’s wonderful that they can deal with the gay issue. But honour Gene. It’s not about me. It’s about Gene’s vision and respect him and respect the characters that he created.’

“But be as imaginative and creative as Gene was… Create a new character and make him or her gay with the issues he or she might have to deal with in the 23rd century. That would be exciting. That would be paying tribute.”

“I wasn’t persuasive and they made Sulu gay. They said it was a tribute to me, so I appreciate that part,” Takei adds.

“But now Gene is really going to be honoured by ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ by having that original character, played by a wonderfully talented actor. I think it is the way it should’ve been done.”

The upcoming Star Trek series, which is set to air next year on CBS, is set 10 years before the events of the original Star Trek series.

Out showrunner Bryan Fuller, who worked on ’90s series Star Trek: Voyager, confirmed that he would be introducing a gay character to the Star Trek universe via the new show.

Recalling the strong opposition to including a gay character he faced on Voyager, Singer said: “Absolutely we’re having a gay character. We’ve come a long way since [when Voyager was airing].

“I feel like actually gay rights have come a lot further in that time than race issues and women’s issues.”

Entertainment Weekly broke the news this week that the deal is sealed, with queer actor Anthony Rapp – famous for originating the role of Mark in Rent – signing on to play gay character Lieutenant Stamets.

Lieutenant Stamets. will be an “astromycologist” – that’s a fungus expert apparently – and the Starship’s Science Officer.

JJ Abrams’ Star Trek film series – which takes place in an entirely different continuity to the rest of the Star Trek universe because sci fi is complicated – recently caused a storm by retroactively revealing that beloved character Mr Sulu is gay.

Mr Sulu, played by George Takei in the original series and John Cho in the reboot films, was shown embracing his daughter and husband in 2016 release Star Trek: Beyond.

Despite lengthy discussion of Sulu’s sexuality prior to the film’s release, a kiss between the character and his husband was axed from the final cut of the film – reportedly a last-minute decision that led to accusations of pandering to censors around the world.

George Takei, a long-time proponent of LGBT characters in the Star Trek universe, said at the time he would prefer new characters to be added, rather than  “twisting” the original universe.

He said: “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.”