Fifty years ago, George Takei made his first appearance as Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series. Though he first appeared as the staff physicist in the pilot episode, Sulu was one of the main characters throughout the rest of the series, acting as helmsman of the USS Enterprise.
Along with the series as a whole, Takei has become a beloved cultural icon, known as one of the first Asian actors to play a protagonist in a major United States television program. Star Trek is also known for having the first interracial kiss on U.S. TV in 1968.
In 2005, Takei came out as gay after Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have legalised same-sex marriage in California. Though he had been with his partner for 18 years, he'd kept his sexuality a secret from the wider public.
"I learned that I had to be guarded with the press, to watch my pronouns. It's very difficult, and that difficult life becomes the way you live, who you are," Takei told Esquire last month as part of a celebration the first year of legalised marriage across the country.
John Cho, who plays Sulu in the J.J. Abrams film reboot of the series, told Australia's Herald Sun that the character will be revealed as gay in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.
"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 politicise one's personal orientations," said Cho.
According to the Herald Sun, "the decision by writer Simon Pegg and Lin to make Sulu gay was a nod to George Takei... and was a sign of what he hoped were changing times."
Throughout the series, Sulu was never shown with a romantic partner, but the 1994 movie Star Trek Generations did reveal that he had a daughter named Demora. In Star Trek Beyond, Sulu will be shown as a father with his same-sex partner.
From: Esquire US.