Star Trek star Anthony Rapp ‘honoured and proud’ to play first gay character

PinkNews logo on a pink background surrounded by illustrated line drawings of a rainbow, pride flag, unicorn and more.

Rent star Anthony Rapp has opened up about playing the first out character in Star Trek’s 51-year TV history.

Upcoming series Star Trek: Discovery, which is set to air later this year on CBS, is set 10 years before the events of the original Star Trek series.

It was announced earlier this week that the show will feature a gay couple onboard the starship.

Rent star Anthony Rapp will play science officer and fungal researcher expert Lieutenant Stamets, while Wilson Cruz will play his partner, medical officer Dr. Hugh Culber.

Star Trek star Anthony Rapp ‘honoured and proud’ to play first gay character

Rapp opened up to Entertainment Weekly about taking on the role, which marks the first time a gay couple has been central on a Star Trek TV show.

Rapp said: “It’s a little bit of a strange thing that there hasn’t been an openly gay character as part of it, so I’m really honoured and proud to get to carry that particular flag.

“The fact of my character’s sexual orientation is just a fact among many and is treated just as simply and straightforwardly as any other fact of the other characters.

“I’m really excited and happy when a gay character is a part of a story — especially when a gay character is created in a complex and human and non-stereotypical, interesting way, and that has certainly been the case with Stamets.”

JJ Abrams’ separate Star Trek film series – which is set in a different universe to Discovery – recently revealed that beloved character Mr Sulu is gay, but not without controversy.

Rapp added: “You get to see [my character’s] relationship. There was a little glimpse in Sulu in Beyond, and it was a nice nod. But in this case, we actually get to see me with my partner in conversation, in our living quarters, you get to see our relationship over time, treated as any other relationship would be treated.”

Showrunner Aaron Harberts said: “We’re at a point in time where people aren’t defined by their sexuality.

“What’s fascinating about the character is that when we meet him we don’t know who or what he is. He’s so super specific, he’s persnickety and difficult and brilliant, and he isn’t going to give an inch and he has very strong feelings about why he’s on the Discovery.

“We wanted to roll out that character’s sexuality the way people would roll out their sexuality in life.”

The full interview is available in Entertainment Weekly.

Original Mr Sulu George Takei, a long-time proponent of LGBT characters in the Star Trek universe, recently praised the LGBT-inclusivity on the upcoming show.

He said: “Thrilled to hear that #StarTrekDiscovery will feature an openly gay couple played by [Rapp] and [Cruz]. How far we’ve come.”

Recalling the strong opposition to including a gay character he faced on Voyager, Fuller 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.”