There was a major twist on Star Trek: Discovery and gay fans are pissed off
This article contains major spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery.
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Star Trek: Discovery majorly pissed off fans when it killed off a ‘groundbreaking’ gay character, just ten episodes into the series.
The sci-fi series, currently airing on CBS all Access and Netflix, included a first for the franchise – by featuring two gay officers who are in a relationship.
The relationship between science officer Lt Paul Stamets (Rent’s Anthony Rapp), and medic Dr Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), has become a central part of the show – and this month the pair were on the cover of two separate gay magazines.
But within just days of posing for the cover of The Advocate and Attitude, the show resorted to a familiar old trope – and killed off Dr Culber.
The character was killed by Lt. Ash Tyler, who was revealed to be an apparent Klingon sleeper agent.
When Dr Culber was carrying out a medical assessment of Tyler, he found that the Klingons had altered him – at which point Tyler snapped his neck.
Fans of the show reacted angrily to the moment – which follows the unfortunate TV trope of gay characters being killed off.
Some vowed to cancel their subscriptions if the character is not brought back, while others lamented the loss of a visible LGBT ethnic minority on TV.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, showrunners Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts defended the twist.
Harberts said: “We knew that this was going to be shocking for an audience and for a community that has unfortunately been assaulted by this ‘bury your gays’ trope, but I’m an openly gay showrunner and my writing partner is nothing if not the most supportive person when it comes to LGBT portrayals on TV.
“We’ve got gay members of the writing staff and we have two incredible out gay actors as part of our team.”
He added: “We knew that starting this journey was going to be really painful for a lot of people, but at the end of the day we could say to our audience, ‘This is the team who is bringing you this story’.”
He hinted that it would not be the end of the road for the character, saying: “When we shared the arc with the cast, Wilson called — and this is about a scene you will not have seen yet — and he said to us, ‘This is the best thing I think I’ve ever done in my career’.
“That right there is an incredible thing; we were hearing that from Wilson Cruz, who is a trailblazer who’s been an out actor his entire life. We all realized in that moment that we’ve done something pretty profound and incredible, and the proof is in the pudding.”
Speaking to sci-fi site InVerse, Cruz promised not everything was as it seemed.
He said: “We will see Dr. Culber again. This is an epic love story.
“You will be experiencing highs and lows, triumphs and disappoints as you would in any relationship.
“What we’re doing is inviting you to go on the journey of this relationship and the roller coaster ride that it is. And this is just one chapter in their story.
“Where we’re going to take you, I think, is incredibly exciting. And this had to happen in order for us to go there.
“So, you know, what we’re all doing, what we’re doing now is asking the audience to trust us. This is not a bury your gays, kill your gays trope storyline.
“This is a chapter in this relationship and even Paul and Hugh have no idea what’s about to go down.
“I give people permission to be sad on Sunday, I think that’s appropriate. I think we will all go through some stages of grief, and I think that’s okay.
“I think that’s why we make TV, you know? We take you on this trip. And this is part of it.”
Star Trek actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz had last week appeared on the cover of The Advocate and Attitude magazine.
Rapp, who has also starred in Rent, said they knew how groundbreaking the kiss would be, and were determined to make sure it happened.
“We were very much aware that there had never been a male-on-male kiss in Star Trek before,” he told Attitude.
“We had conversations with the producers, asking if this was going to happen.
“A few episodes in we asked again, and they replied ‘yes, absolutely,'” he recalled.
And he praised the way in which the show’s producers handled the scene itself.
“When it happened it was a good time, it was earned and had a meaningful impact, and it was satisfying,” he said.
“If it had happened earlier, it probably wouldn’t have had the same meaning.
“I appreciated the relationship was revealed in subtle ways; it was part of the fabric of the ship.”
Rapp said he had noticed the positive effect which the kiss had had on fans.
“The Trek community has a vibrant LGBT+ segment to it, and people were really gratified that it was presented in a direct, uncomplicated and human way,” he said.
Cruz, who hit out at homophobic fans of the show after they criticised the storyline, said that as a child, he craved the kind of gay representation Star Trek is providing.
“I wanted to see a character on TV who reflected my life back to me,” he said.
“Growing up, I wanted to see two men love each other and share a life, and have the same ups and downs that their heterosexual counterparts had.
“The fact that I got to be that change in the world was and is the greatest thrill to me,” Cruz added.
Rapp has also spoken out about his reasons for coming forward with sexual assault allegations against Kevin Spacey that date from when he was 14 years old.
“I did it to stand on the shoulders of all that I was witnessing around me,” he said.
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“I was hopeful that sharing my story would have an impact.
“There are so many different shades and degrees of this kind of behaviour and these kinds of situations, but the most insidious to me is when it’s an abuse of power,” he added.
“No matter what, I would urge anybody to stay safe, take care of themselves and each other and to get help and support when they need it.
“There is no such thing as truly being alone, which is what I hope this moment demonstrates – that there is strength in numbers.”