• Anthony Rapp at San Diego Convention Center on July 22, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Getty Images North America)Source: Getty Images North America
Rent star Anthony Rapp will play an openly gay science officer and fungus expert.
Michaela Morgan

28 Jul 2017 - 11:34 AM  UPDATED 28 Jul 2017 - 11:34 AM

The creators of the latest installment in the Star Trek franchise have revealed that the upcoming TV series will feature an openly gay character—for the first time in its 51-year history.

Star Trek: Discovery will premiere on CBS and Netflix this September and is set roughly 10 years before the events of the original series.

Actor Anthony Rapp—who has previously starred in Rent—will play Lt. Stamets, an anastromycologist (fungus expert) who is in a romantic relationship with medical officer Dr. Hugh Culber, played by Wilson Cruz.

“I’m really excited and happy when a gay character is a part of a story — especially when a gay character is created in a complex and human and non-stereotypical, interesting way, and that has certainly been the case with Stamets,” Rapp tells Entertainment Weekly.

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In the recent film Star Trek Beyond, the character of Sulu—played by John Cho—is very subtly portrayed as gay. The original Sulu actor and openly gay man George Takei referred to it as a “whisper of a scene”.

“If you blinked, you missed it," said Takei. "There are others who are dealing with LGBT issues much more profoundly.”

Rapp says that the new series will explore Lt. Stamets’ relationship in a more meaningful way.   

“There was a little glimpse in Sulu in Beyond, and it was a nice nod. But in this case, we actually get to see me with my partner in conversation, in our living quarters, you get to see our relationship over time, treated as any other relationship would be treated.”

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Showrunner Aaron Harberts added that, in 2017, “We’re at a point in time where people aren’t defined by their sexuality.”

“What’s fascinating about the character is that when we meet him we don’t know who or what he is. He’s so super specific, he’s persnickety and difficult and brilliant, and he isn’t going to give an inch and he has very strong feelings about why he’s on the Discovery.

“We wanted to roll out that character’s sexuality the way people would roll out their sexuality in life.”