As we get closer and closer to the September 15 premiere date, more and more exciting cast news is being announced for the new Star Trek TV series, Star Trek: Discovery. The latest news straight from SDCC 2017 is that there are going to be canonical queer characters on the series. Two men in a romantic relationship who serve on the ship together. For as long as Trekkies have waited for canonical queer characters or relationships on a Star Trek series, this would be exciting news in and of itself. But the news gets even better when these two characters are played by—drum roll please—Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz!
For those of you who might be scratching your heads right now, let me get even geekier on you. Theater nerd geeky. Anthony Rapp is probably best known as an original cast member of RENT. He played Mark Cohen, the Jewish wannabe documentarian who is arguably the most stable member of his motley crew of friends trying to live and love in mid-90s New York City. Rapp will be playing Lt. Stamets.
Wilson Cruz is probably best known to a lot of people for the groundbreaking and beloved short lived 90s TV series My So-Called Life. He played Rickie Vazquez, a gay teen kicked out of his home when he comes out to his parents. However, if you are a theater geek (and I hope you are) you might know that Cruz played Angel Dumott Shunard, the vibrant and lovable queen, in a slightly later production of RENT. Cruz will be playing Dr. Hugh Culber on the series.
If the show does not somehow make a least one reference to Rapp and Cruz’s RENT characters, I will be very disappointed. All I ask for is someone humming "La Vie Boheme" while walking down a corridor or "Take Me or Leave Me" as a background tune to their first on-screen fight as a couple.
Something surely exciting for the show's queer fans (other than the theater stuff, that is) is the knowledge that two canonically queer characters (I will not say gay until we have more information about the character's sexual orientations) are being played by two out queer actors, one of whom is Puerto Rican. Queer people of color are sorely lacking on television. Yes, even in 2017.
With Cruz's inclusion, that brings the show's characters or actors who are people of color to five out of 12 announced so far. Two of them—Michelle Yeoh and Sonequa Martin-Green—are the captain and first officer. Both of whom are women of color. Cruz is reported to be chief medical officer. This is very good for a Star Trek series. Maybe even shocking. For a franchise all about humanity living in a golden age of progress and diversity several hundred years from now, the future is disappointingly very straight and very White. In other words, either your typical YA dystopia, or the wistful dreams of the current presidential administration.
Star Trek: Discovery is finally going where no other Star Trek series has been brave enough to go before. I am so excited I wish I could go to warp speed to get to September 15 faster. But since warp speed (sadly) does not exist (yet), we can bide our time until then by shutting down bitter so-called fans who are angry about the diversity of sexual orientation and ethnicity among the cast and who are taking every opportunity to talk shit about the show online. Let's show these haters and CBS that this is the future we want to see and to be part of. Live long and prosper, my friends!