Star Trek: Discovery will prominently feature a same-sex couple for the first time in the show’s 51-year history.
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.
The show’s creator Bryan Fuller, who worked on ’90s series Star Trek: Voyager, has spoken about his commitment to making sure the new show is LGBT-inclusive.
At Comic-Con, it was announced that Wilson Cruz is joining the show as ship medical officer Dr. Hugh Culber.
Most significantly, it was confirmed that the character would have a romance with gay character Lieutenant Stamets, who is played by actor Anthony Rapp.
Rapp is most famous for originating the role of Mark in Rent, while Cruz has appeared in The West Wing and 13 Reasons Why.
Both actors are out in real life.
It is the first time an openly gay character has appeared as a main cast member on a Star Trek TV series, though our nerdier readers will note that Jadzia Dax’s sexuality was briefly explored on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Lt Stamets. will be an “astromycologist” – that’s a fungus expert apparently – and the Starship’s Science Officer.
George Takei, a long-time proponent of LGBT characters in the Star Trek universe, 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.”
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 (please don’t write in) – recently caused a storm by retroactively revealing that beloved character Mr Sulu is gay.
Mr Sulu, played by 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.
Takei 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.”