When I first heard that Sulu, brought to life once again by John Cho, would be depicted as a gay man in Star Trek: Beyond, I was thrilled. To find out Sulu is gay is on par with having a friend or family member come out; you already know them, you are just learning another facet of who they are.
Sulu is the latest in a trend of previously assumed heterosexual characters to come out as gay over the years. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Willow to the X-Men’s Iceman, our ever-changing social landscape is allowing for the creation of characters that can be role models and icons for the LGBT community. Though making famous characters gay is not always well-received by fans, it is imperative for the LGBT community — and youth in particular — to have these icons representing and normalizing an aspect of life that can be difficult for so many.
Many were shocked to hear that Sulu was, in fact, a homosexual with a husband and daughter. How could this be? Why would the filmmakers do this?