The franchise had a reputation for progressive storytelling. It’s time to reclaim the mantle.
It was recently announced that a new Star Trek show was in development, which ignited the hearts of the franchise’s fans who have been sitting through a drought of new material since Star Trek: Enterprise went off the air in 2005. While we have our own ideas about how the new Star Trek show should be approached on a creative level, we can’t help but come to another conclusion:
The new series’ lead character should be gay.
Why do you believe the captain should be gay?
Star Trek is all about breaking down the barriers of society in an effort to bring us together in favor of a vision that transcends current cultural boundaries. When Gene Roddenberry envisioned the United Federation of Planets, he saw a place where every race, religion, and sexual orientation was accepted without question. After all, it’s no accident the command crew of the original Enterprise was multicultural – an edict that every Trek series since has followed.
In fact, when Star Trek was at the height of its popularity in the 1990s the producers made sure to make the leads of Deep Space Nine and Voyager a black man and a woman. Unfortunately, Star Trek: Enterprise went with another white male as its lead in an attempt to associate itself with the heyday of Captain Kirk. While Scott Bakula is a tremendous actor who was great as Captain Archer… it kind of felt like a step back, especially when Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell were leading the cast of the new Battlestar Galactica. When the 2009 Trek reboot chose to focus on Kirk again, in many ways it was an even bigger step back.
But despite the later missteps of the franchise, it always kept its progressive reputation as a whole. However, even with a laudable diversity among the franchise’s leads they all had one thing in common:
They were all straight.
Why is it important the next Starfleet captain be gay?
The franchise, in addition to promoting diversity, has always been pushing the boundaries of the current social and political climate with its stories. In 1968, The Original Series episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” featured the first televised interracial kiss between William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols. Almost 30 years later, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had an episode that featured the fifth televised lesbian kiss in a decade that took place when the Gay Rights movement was gaining more exposure than ever before.
Despite all the progress we’ve made, there are many hot button topics that still remain such as gays serving in the military. What better way to combat the fears and stereotypes than having a major TV show that features a capable, confident, and respected high ranking member in what is essentially a space military who just happens to be gay?
How could it be done well?
The same way Benjamin Sisko and (for the most part) Kathryn Janeway were written. Sisko’s most defining traits were his cunning, that he was a single father, and the fact he was an amazing chef. Janeway was defined by her insatiable curiosity and her guilt about getting her crew stranded far from home. Outside of some very rare exceptions, Sisko and Janeway were never the black and woman captains: they were the captain who won the Dominion War and the captain made the impossible journey home in the same way Kirk was an explorer, Picard was a diplomat, and Archer helped found the Federation.
We don’t care if the next captain is a man or a woman (though it would be great to see another woman captain), but it’s time Star Trek gave audiences another role model who can navigate ethical crises, think through moral dilemmas, win space battles, and accomplish the impossible on a weekly basis… and also just happens to be gay.
As we said in our previous article, it’s important that this new show embrace the spirit of Star Trek. This is just another way of doing that, but also a way of bringing that spirit into the modern era in a conduct that both timely and ageless in the way only Star Trek can be.