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6 Times Star Trek Made History

Adira (Blu del Barrio) of the CBS All Access series Star Trek: Discovery is the franchise's first non-binary character.

Photo Credit: James Dimmock/CBS.

The sci-fi franchise has been breaking new ground for more than 50 years now.

By Nate Millado

Star Trek: Discovery has returned with all-new episodes and Season 3 will feature the franchise's first transgender and non-binary characters. Actor Ian Alexander will play Gray, and newcomer Blu del Barrio will take on the role of Adira. But this groundbreaking sci-fi series has always been ahead of its time since its debut in 1966.

Here are six times Star Trek boldly went where no other TV show had gone before.

Stream all-new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery every Thursday exclusively on CBS All Access.

Star Trek: The Original Series' Multicultural Crew

Uhura McCoy and Sulu in Star Trek

Nichelle Nichols as Commander Uhura, DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, and George Takei as Commander Hikaru Sulu in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry envisioned a utopian future to strive for. So even though Star Trek: The Original Series debuted during a decade of mounting racial tensions, it boasted one of the most multicultural casts on television.

The starship Enterprise crew included lieutenants Uhura (African-American actress Nichelle Nichols) and Sulu (Japanese-American actor George Takei), roles they reprised in the subsequent films. Nichols actually considered leaving after the first season, but a famous Trekkie changed her mind.

Star Trek super fan Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whom she met at a NAACP fundraiser, told Nichols the role was bigger than her: "What you've accomplished, for all of us, will only be real if you stay." And so she did.

The First Interracial Kiss On American TV

Uhura and Kirk kissing

Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and William Shatner as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek episode "Plato's Stepchildren."

Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Just a year after the Supreme Court ruled that interracial marriage was legal, Star Trek aired the barrier-breaking episode "Plato's Stepchildren," in which Capt. Kirk (William Shatner) plants a kiss on his communications officer, Lt. Uhura (Nichols). The legendary lip-lock is considered the first scripted interracial kiss on American television.

First Genderless Character

\u200bSoren in the Star Trek The Next Generation

Soren (Melinda Culea) in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Outcast."

Photo Credit: YouTube.

In 1992, Star Trek: The Next Generation addressed sexual discrimination in the episode "The Outcast." Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) falls in love with Soren (Melinda Culea), a member of an androgynous species that finds gender to be outdated and offensive. When the J'naii discover their affair, they force Soren to undergo "psychotectic" therapy, and Soren loses their attraction to Riker.

Female Firsts

Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek Voyager

Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager.

Photo Credit: CBS via Getty Images.

Kate Mulgrew navigated uncharted territory when she first stepped onto the bridge of the U.S.S. Voyager as the first female captain of a Star Trek series. Captain Kathryn Janeway also paved the way for Star Trek: Discovery's complex, badass Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green)—the franchise's first black female lead.

First Openly Gay Couple

Lieutenant Paul Stamets and Dr Hugh Culber embracing

Anthony Rapp as Lieutenant Paul Stamets and Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber in Star Trek: Discovery.

Photo Credit: Michael Gibson/CBS.

In 2017, Star Trek: Discovery introduced the first openly gay characters to the franchise. played by out actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz. After Season 1's fifth episode confirmed that Lt. Stamets (Rapp) and Dr. Culber (Cruz) were indeed gay—and married!—Cruz posted on Instagram: "I may have been moved to tears watching this. #representationmatters." Out actor George Takei—who played Sulu in the Star Trek: The Original Series—also saluted the history-making moment on his social media.

First Non-Binary And Trans Characters

Head shots of actors \u200bBlu del Barrio and Ian Alexander

Blu del Barrio plays Adira and Ian Alexander plays Gray in Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery.

Photo Credit: Phil Sharp (Blu del Barrio); Jake Akita (Ian Alexander).

Season 3 of Star Trek: Discovery welcomes non-binary actor Blu del Barrio and transgender actor Ian Alexander to its diverse cast.

Alexander plays Gray, a warm and empathetic transgender man, eager to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a Trill host. Newcomer del Barrio is Adira, a non-binary character who bonds with Stamets (Rapp) and Culber (Cruz). "Star Trek has always made a mission of giving visibility to underrepresented communities because it believes in showing people that a future without division on the basis of race, gender, gender identity or sexual orientation is entirely within our reach," co-showrunner and executive producer Michelle Paradise said in a statement.

Stream all-new episodes of Star Trek: Discovery every Thursday exclusively on CBS All Access.

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