Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek franchise has re-defined modern sci fi with its daring storylines and commitment to diversity. And it appears that for the CBS All Access’ streaming-only addition to the saga — Star Trek: Discovery — the writers are intending to uphold that tradition.
Word is beginning to spread from high-ranking sources – claiming the series will not only be led by a woman, but will also feature a gay character. After Star Trek: Beyond’s Hikaru Sulu was spotted being adorable with his husband and daughter (spoilers!), the franchise seems to be shaking off a grave mistake from 1987, when Roddenberry promised LGBTQ characters in the series – and failed to deliver. It wouldn’t the the first time.
Sources close to The Hollywood Reporter say that Discovery will feature a female lead (the second after Janeway) who is, in a departure from the norm, not the captain. Not yet, at least. Instead, the character will be a high-ranking Lieutenant, allowing for a different kind of narrative to be told. “We’re going deep into something that was for me always very tantalizing, and [we're telling] that story through a character who is on a journey that is going to teach her how to get along with others in the galaxy,” producer Bryan Fuller said at this week’s TCA’s. “For her to truly understand something that is alien, she has to first understand herself.”
Like Roddenberry, Fuller, who headed up Voyager, also received hate mail over a broken promise of a gay character. On-screen and in the realm of what is considered “canon”, LGBTQIA characters have had a rough path to defining themselves. Fuller said that he didn’t intend to repeat his mistake twice. “We wanted to paint a picture of Star Fleet that’s indicative of encountering people who are much more different than we are.”
After Roddenberry failed to producer the franchise’s first gay character with The Next Generation, he admitted his mistake. During an interview with The Humanist in 1991, Roddenberry explained his change of heart and his regret. “My attitude toward homosexuality has changed. I came to the conclusion that I was wrong,” he said. “I would, sometimes, say something anti-homosexual off the top of my head because it was thought, in those days, to be funny. I never really deeply believed those comments, but I gave the impression of being thoughtless in these areas.”