Star Trek is a television and film franchise that has often been thought of as being very forward thinking. Seeing as it centers on a science fiction heavy presentation of our future, I would say that’s a good thing. With the original series, creator Gene Rodenberry broke through a lot of societal boundaries. His future was a multi-cultural, multi-national one that must have seemed very progressive in 1966. The show’s character Uhura was one of the first regular black characters on any series. It showed Americans working side by side with Russians back when communism was still being portrayed as an evil red threat in everything else. But one thing that the franchise has never depicted, even in all of its TV and film spin-offs, is homosexuality. That’s got to be seen as a pretty big failure when looking at things in terms of hard sc-fi.
When talking to gay-slanted pop culture site afterelton.com, The Next Generation c0-producer Brannon Braga had this to say about the subject, “It was a shame for a lot of us that … I’m talking about the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and there was a constant back and forth about well how do we portray the spectrum of sexuality. There were people who felt very strongly that we should be showing casually, you know, just two guys together in the background in Ten Forward. At the time the decision was made not to do that and I think those same people would make a different decision now…”
When asked about the possibility of finally getting a gay Star Trek character in the next film, Braga said, “Well, I mean, the movie is such a different bird. If there were a TV series, I would agree with you. But for a movie, I personally wouldn’t. With a TV series you’re creating a whole world, you’re creating a whole. You were saying, if this is going to last for five years, and if you don’t go there, then yes you got some questions. A two-hour movie and you’re sitting there and you’re eating your popcorn, if doesn’t fit … if it’s not part of the story, it’s not part of the story. There are many things that aren’t part of the story, you know? That’s my personal opinion.”
Here’s a tip to Braga when trying to sell your product to any subset of people in the future: lie. It’s easy, it was right there! Here, say it like this, “Star Trek took great pains to include homosexuality into the mix from the very beginning. Due to television standards at the time it could not be overt, but we were always conscious about keeping Kirk and Spock’s relationship ambiguous enough that it was always a possibility. No relationship could be that tense at times, yet that tender at times, without being in some part sexual. The next movie? Oh, I’m sure the next movie will definitely have an openly gay character. And it will be in eye-popping 3-D!” There, that’s how you sell tickets.