Comic Con attendees have been intrigued by outer space for decades, ready to boldly go where no one has gone before, as William Shatner used to say during each “Star Trek” episode.
The latest series in the “Star Trek” franchise go where no other series of the show has gone before: CBS’ “Star Trek: Discovery” will have its first openly gay character, played by Anthony Rapp, who is best known for his role in the Broadway musical and subsequent film, “Rent.”
During the Comic Con panel, Rapp, who will be playing Lt. Paul Stamets, told Trekkies attending that his character will have a same sex romance.
“A wonderful actor that I’ve known for over 20 years that you would all know and are old enough to know, remember that show My So-Called Life? He was in that show and he was in the upcoming season of 13 reasons why and he’s a friend that I actually did rent with previously in the long course of my life with it.”
“I can announce that Wilson Cruz will play my love interest, my partner—my man love— and we’re both officers on the ship. I’m very proud of that. And he’s a scientist.”
Cruz is known for his role in the much loved TV series, “My So-Called Life,” and was also Rapp’s co-star in “Rent.”
After the panel, Cruz — whose character is Dr. Hugh Culber, medical officer of the Starship Discovery — confirmed the news on Twitter, tweeting, “Well, apparently, the cat is finally out of the bag… I’m so THRILLED to be apart of the epic American mythology that is #StarTrek!”
“Our opportunity is to take our view of conflict today and still search for some resolution that is not dystopian, but utopian,” Rapp said. “I promise you that we passionately believe in what we are doing. We want to do something meaningful and honor what’s come before.”
While the recent “Star Trek: Beyond” had John Cho portraying Sulu – portrayed in the original series by LGBT+ activist, George Takei—many viewers felt that the issue was not accurately dealt with, since Sulu was never gay in the original series.
Takei himself was not happy; “I’m delighted that there’s a gay character,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”
But with Rapp being cast as a new character, Takei had a more positive response, tweeting, “Thrilled to hear that “Star Trek: Discovery” will feature an openly gay couple played by @albinokid and @wcruz73. How far we’ve come.”
John Griffiths, founder and executive director of the 190-member strong GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Journalists, is thrilled with the unprecedented storyline.
“I think Gene Roddenberry would be out-of-this-world happy to know that his legacy creation just keeps on embracing the fact that the world (and universe) is filled with all sorts of amazing humans with rich lives and true loves – and that we’re all part of the same team, even in space!”
Griffiths continued: “It’s also nice to see two fine, longtime-out actors, both of whom risked their careers early on merely by being who they were, getting some casting love. Discovery’s producers and casting directors obviously get the true, peace-yearning spirit of the series.
“Maybe Rapp’s scientist and Cruz’s medical officer will go on a double date with a couple of lesbian Klingons! Or do Klingons identify as gender-specific?! It’s an endless universe indeed!” Griffiths quipped.
In addition to the same-sex relationship of Mr. Rapp’s character, fans have expressed mixed feelings about a woman of color leading the ship. Former “Walking Dead” star Sonequa Martin-Green will star on the series as First Officer Michael Burnham.
“‘Star Trek’ has always been [a champion] of diversity and of universality and of unity. I truly believe it’s one of the main reasons why it is so important to so many people still to this day,” said Martin-Green. “And if you say you love the legacy of ‘Star
Trek’ but you don’t love that, then you’ve missed it.”
Star Trek: Discovery premieres Sept. 24 on CBS before moving exclusively to CBS All Access.
— This article was inadvertently attributed to the wrong author in the print edition. It was written by Susan Hornik, contributor to Washingtontimes.com, Swaaymedia.com, Industrym.com, Realtor.com, FiftyistheNewFifty.com, Canada’s Chatelaine, Brainworld, CSQ, First for Women, Discover Hollywood, Maxim, Health, and Mademan.com