J.J. Abrams: A Gay Character In Star Trek 2 Would Feel Like A “Stupid, Distracting Subplot”

Even though the Star Trek franchise has featured transgender and asexual aliens,’s Michael Jensen laments that in its 45 years, there’s never been an  flesh-and-blood gay or lesbian character; something he considers odd for show with a message of tolerance and inclusivity.

Jensen recently sat down with J.J. Abrams, director of the most recent Star Trek film, to discuss whether the upcoming sequel will finally feature a queer Klingon or bi Betazoid.

According to Abrams, don’t hold your breath.

I just wouldn’t want the agenda to be… whether it’s a heterosexual relationship or a homosexual relationship, to tell a story that was, that felt distracting from the purpose of the story. So I’m complete[ly] open-minded, you know—I’m interested in finding a way to do that but it’s almost like it’s a tricky thing. Because it’s the right thing to do… but [you want to] do it in a way that doesn’t feel like you’re [just] doing it in order to make that point. Because then it’s almost a disservice. Because then it feels like, “Oh that stupid distracting subplot about you know, you know, that minority. Or those people. ”

So the question is 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?’ So the answer is, I think it should be done and I’d love to be able to do it…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.

Abrams, in his meandering way, seems to be suggesting that a character’s homosexuality would have to be established in the bedroom or take center stage in his story arc. This is the 21st century, J.J., and Star Trek takes place in the 24th century: You could easily insert a gay or lesbian character with a same-sex love interest without completely derailing or detracting from the story.

In Abrams’ 2010 Trek flick, James Kirk hits on Uhura and rolls around with her alien roommate. Yes, it helped establish his character as a “bad boy,” but it hardly conveyed much information about the larger plot. Abrams and his writers should stop seeing homosexuality as so explosive and portray queer attraction with as much casualness as they do straight sexuality.

In the meantime, we’ll always have George Takei—and Zachary Quinto’s oddly homoerotic reading of the Star Trek audiobook.

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