Talking to avclub he says, “I was concerned for a few reasons. I was concerned that George wouldn’t like it, and it turned out to be true. But I was actually concerned that he wouldn’t like it for a different reason. I thought that George would object because he’s a gay actor who was playing straight. I know that was difficult, that he couldn’t come out and that he had crafted a straight character. Then, now, because he’s an activist and he’s out of the closet—clearly, this is an homage a little bit to him—[I worried] he would object to us taking that from his life and say, “Hey, I was a gay actor who created a straight character, and now you’re making him gay because I’ve come out of the closet?,” that we were just seeing him for his sexual orientation. So I thought that would be where he would object. It turns out not to be his objection. But that’s what I was worried about.”
He also had a couple of other worries, adding, “Asian men have been basically eunuchs in American cinema and television, and I thought maybe it would be seen as a continuation of that”.
Cho also wondered if it might accidentally send the wrong message, as, “I was concerned that because this is the same genetic Sulu—although we’re in an alternate timeline—that we would be inadvertently implying that sexual orientation was a choice.”
However, he ultimately thinks it’s a very good thing. “We’re executing [Star Trek creator Gene] Roddenberry’s intent, I think: infinite diversity in infinite combinations. It’s very much a part of the ethos of Star Trek. I have to say, all things considered, it’s working great, and I’m proud of it,’ he says.
There is something we won’t be see though, which is a kiss between Sulu and his husband, as it’s been cut. Cho told Vulture, “It wasn’t like a make-out session. We’re at the airport with our daughter. It was a welcome-home kiss. I’m actually proud of that scene, because it was pretty tough. We’re two straight guys and had to get to a very loving, intimate place. It was hard to do on the fly. We had to open up. It came off well, in my view.”
Surprisingly, Sulu’s husband is played by the film’s co-screenwriter, Doug Jung, as, “We were in Vancouver first and we finished up the production in Dubai and that scene was in Dubai and I was like, ‘Hey, so who’d you get?’ They were like, ‘We can’t find anybody! Doug may have to play him!’ It started out as a joke. I was like, ‘Haha.’ And then at some point they were not joking. We definitely had trouble finding East Asians first off, and then actors willing to play gay. We had a guy and then his parents really objected. Basically, we couldn’t find an Asian actor willing to play gay in Dubai is my understanding.”
However, it was important to Cho that Sulu had an Asian husband, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think. He says, “Basically it was a little Valentine to the gay Asian friends that I grew up with. This may be presumptuous, but I always felt the Asian gay men that I knew had much heavier cultural-shame issues. This is probably more so for my generation than for yours, but I felt like those guys didn’t date Asian men because of that cultural shame. So I wanted it to seem really normal in the future. I thought that would be the most normal thing, that there was zero shame in the future. I don’t know if that hit or not, but it was something that I felt in my gut and asked for that.”