I agree with George Takei that they shouldn’t change Sulu’s character. This isn’t just a belief that I hold for Star Trek, but for many of my fandoms. I come to know and love these characters, whether it’s Star Trek or Comic Books characters, and it’s just difficult to see them fundamentally changed. I’m not happy that they made Captain America part of Hydra. I don’t like that they are making Thor a woman. While making Sulu gay isn’t so drastic, I just feel like I understand George’s point of view. If you want a strong leading gay character (or strong female lead, etc), you should create one.
That being said, this change was not a deal breaker for me. While I disagree with the method, I do think it’s beautiful to have a strong gay character. It’s a change that I will embrace with love. It actually didn’t bother me to see the change, as it wasn’t an unrealistic change. They didn’t alter his gender or make him a bad guy… they just made him gay. If I had remembered Sulu’s family in more detail, it would have mattered more.
For example, we knew Miles O’Brien’s wife and daughter in Deep Space Nine. He was a devoted husband and father. If they suddenly made him gay, I’d be really annoyed, because it would be changing the character from what I identified him as… a straight family man. Sulu on the other hand… I don’t remember him having a big family presence. There was his daughter Demora, but she appeared in the movie. Gay couples have children too. Therefore, nothing was fundamentally changed about him.
Another example is if they made Kirk gay. He’s known for being a ladies man, sleeping with any sexy woman – human or alien. Making him gay wouldn’t feel right. It wouldn’t feel like the same character to me.
Don’t get me wrong, gay vs straight isn’t the issue. Jack Harkness in Torchwood was clearly bisexual and I loved him the way he was. If they had made him straight, I would have been upset. It’s not about being straight or gay, it’s about changing characters that we know and love in a way that makes them feel like they aren’t that character anymore.
To me, it’s like how the fans feel about these movies. It’s not the spirit of what Star Trek was. It’s not Gene Roddenberry’s vision. It’s not what we fell in love with. If you hate the new movies, you should understand where George Takei is coming from.