Non-binary actor Blu del Barrio and trans actor Ian Alexander join the 'Star Trek' family as some of the first LGTBQ+ characters in the franchise.
Launched in 2017, Star Trek: Discovery has been continuing the legacy of the original series from the late 1960s. The franchise has always given underrepresented communities a platform to be represented with sensitivity. Now, the new series is doing just that for the LGBTQ+ community. In a historic move, the Discovery series will introduce non-binary and transgender characters in its third season. The decision to do so was announced by CBS All Access earlier this week on Wednesday. Co-showrunner and executive producer Michelle Paradise said that the show takes pride in bringing stories of people from the LGBTQ+ to the mainstream, CNN reports.
The two new characters, played by non-binary actor Blu del Barrio and trans actor Ian Alexander, are expected to bring to light some of the lived experiences of members of the LGBTQ+ community. Del Barrio, whose pronouns are they and them, plays a character named Adira. Adira is described as "highly intelligent" and an individual who forms "an unexpected bond with Lt. Commander Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz)" in a press release. Meanwhile, Alexander's character Gray, has been described as "empathetic, warm, and eager to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a Trill host." As the show progresses, nonetheless, the press release states "he will have to adapt when his life takes an unexpected turn."
i’ve been eagerly awaiting the day i could share this news with everyone!!! so excited to join the amazing cast of #StarTrekDiscovery for season 3, alongside the incredible Blu del Barrio ❤️ https://t.co/21nVxc3KRv— IAN - ACAB (@ianaIexander) September 2, 2020
Paradise said in a statement about the landmark move, "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. We take pride in working closely with Blu del Barrio, Ian Alexander, and Nick Adams at GLAAD to create the extraordinary characters of Adira and Gray, and bring their stories to life with empathy, understanding, empowerment, and joy." Adams is the Director of Transgender Representation at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
In an interview with Adams, del Barrio said sharing their experiences was not only important but necessary. "People need to know who we are and be able to empathize with us in order for change to take place," they stated."40 percent of trans people attempt suicide, compared to 4.6 percent of the general population. If that doesn't scream urgency, I don't know what does. I honestly believe if schools were legally required to include LGBTQ+ curriculum, we would see a huge change in how our country treats trans people. But until then, using our own voices, loudly, is the best we can do."