With the recent revealing of Hikaru Sulu (portrayed currently in the new Star Trek franchise by John Cho) as gay, the amount of dislike and disappointment to this decision - especially shown by George Takei, the original Sulu - is somewhat surprising. Especially in the modern and mainstream society that we live in, characters coming out as gay shouldn't be shocking or controversial.
Earlier this year, Game of Thrones season six aired and was hugely popular (creating huge amounts of speculation for next season). Frequently, Game of Thrones defy all kinds of social norms and expectations; at the end of season six, we saw the rise of three queens (Daenerys, Yara and Cersei) who are all powerful women - both defying and conforming to traditional gender roles but being strong nonetheless. Not only does Game of Thrones equalise gender issues but it continuously 'normalises' LGBT+ characters. Throughout the show, we've seen characters such as Renly Baratheon (once a potential King of the Seven Kingdoms), Loras Tyrell (a brave young knight who unseated fan-favourite Jaime Lannister in a tournament) and Oberyn Martell (a likeable and courageous warrior from Dorne). The three characters were treated by the show in a respectful way and the characters weren't defined by their sexuality. Instead, these characters were defined by their achievements, their history and their engaging personalities.
Walking Dead and others.
Similarly, TV shows such as The Walking Dead, Orange Is the New Black and Penny Dreadful have effortlessly incorporated LGBTQ+ characters without making too much of a fuss. Penny Dreadful, in particular, featured the pansexual Dorian Gray (similar to Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones). Instead of defining either character by their sexuality, however, the shows continue to present all of their relationships as normal.
In February this year, Deadpool (portrayed by Hollywood heartthrob, Ryan Reynolds) opened in screens. Less than a few weeks prior to this, the team behind the #Film confirmed Deadpool as pansexual. In the film, however, there were limited references to this - showing the normalisation of LGBT+ characters in the media.
Elements of LGBTQ+ yet to be explored.
While the term 'pansexual' has only recently come into light (meaning an attraction to all genders), other parts of the spectrum are yet to be explored in the media. Throughout popular film and #Television, there is a staggering lack of representation for asexuals (people who don't experience sexual attraction or are repulsed by the idea), demisexuals (those who only experience sexual attraction to people they have a strong emotional connection with) and a range of other sexuality. While the normalisation of gay, bisexual and pansexual characters is hugely progressive and beginning to come through into mainstream cinema and television series, there is still a lot that can be done which can be shown through the negative reactions to Sulu's sexuality. Nonetheless, change is being made. To quote Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, "I like to believe that there are always possibilities" and there are definitely possibilities that, in the future, unexplored sexuality and prejudice towards the LGBT+ community can be changed. #Games of Thrones