J.J. Abrams, the same guy who got us to care about strangers on an island, may just be the person to pull off the first gay character in the Star Trek franchise.
Star Trek has always used science fiction to speak about ongoing issues in our society. Kirk has sexed up green painted ladies, the controversial Uhura kiss with Kirk was a big deal, and tons more inter-species dating has been seen—but never an actual flesh-and-blood gay character. This has perplexed many people associated with the franchise before, and it even surprised Abrams when he was asked about it over at AfterElton.
"You know what's funny? As someone who was never a huge Star Trek fan and I didn't watch the shows. And my experience with the movie was the first in the series and then watching and re-watching some of the movies that I've seen. I'm frankly shocked that in the history of Star Trek there have never been gay characters in all the series. In Deep Space Nine and all the Enterprises that that's never come up."
So will there be a gay character in Abrams' vision of Star Trek? Before they got a chance to speak to Abrams, AfterElton spoke with writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman about it, and they responded that they "were open to the idea, but had no plans to include a gay character as of yet."
Abrams's response was a little different, though he didn't oppose the idea. His concern was over how "do you do it where it doesn't feel like why am I getting into that kind of detail about the character's life if not just to make a point of it?" That's a good point—since the issues around Star Trek 2 right now aren't exactly great, a gay character for the sake of it is probably far from the director's mind. Abrams just re-devoted his attention back to the sequel, with no script finished, only a 70-page treatment. He has also had to delay the original June 2012 release date to be able to focus on the project with caution and hammer out the big details of the story and preproduction with fellow collaborators Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Bryan Burk.
"So the answer is," he said, "I think it should be done, and I'd love to be able to do it. And the question is once we get through the bigger issues of certain structural things that are really the key to the show or the movie being done well."
GLBT characters have been more front and center lately as characters in very popular sci-fi series, such as Camile Wray (Ming Na) in SGU and Sam Adama (Sasha Rolz) on Caprica, to name a few. The most recognizable is probably Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), the bisexual leader of Torchwood.
Star Trek has always influenced these and countless other sci-fi series, but a foray into a gay character now would be the first time it has to play follow the leader. Is the franchise too late to the game? Will you care when it does finally happen? Do you think Abrams can pull it off without making it an obvious statement?