Star Trek Reveals A Classic Hero Is Bisexual

By Michileen Martin | 1 week ago

star trek strange new worlds

As forward thinking as Star Trek has always been, it took the franchise a while to begin directly examining issues related to the LGBTQ+ community. So, in spite of a lot of very imaginative fan fiction, none of the Enterprise crew on Star Trek: The Original Series was ever established to be anything but hetero; that changed today. In “Spock Amok,” the newest episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, we learn that Christine Chapel — played by Jess Bush in the new series and the late Majel Barrett in TOS — is bisexual.

jess bush
Jess Bush on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it — or, more precisely, listen closely or you’ll miss it — moment, but in an early scene of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds‘ fifth episode, we learn that Nurse Christine Chapel has had romantic relationships with both men and women. The crew is preparing for shore leave at Starbase-1 and Chapel and Lieutenant Ortegas (Melissa Navia) are in Sick Bay, where Dr. M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) is running late. While they wait for M’Benga, Chapel and Ortegas discuss the former’s romantic plans for shore leave, and we learn the young nurse isn’t fond of commitments. She says her newest lover, Lieutenant Dever (Graham Parkhurst), feels the same, and Ortegas responds, “You said the same thing about that gal on Argelius II.” It turns out whatever woman Chapel got involved with on Argelius II was so angry at her lack of commitment she tried to shoot Chapel with a phaser.

While it’s certain plenty of fans will bemoan this as a “woke” change in the continuity of Star Trek, the truth is there is nothing in the franchise’s canon to suggest Chapel wasn’t interested in women. As a recurring character on TOS, when Majel Barrett played her, her prime romantic interest was Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and we see the beginnings of that attraction in “Spock Amok.” But obviously being attracted to men doesn’t mean you can’t also be attracted to women.

star trek adrian holmes
Adrian Holmes in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

To any Star Trek “fans” who tend to cry into their Romulan ale every time the franchise moves in the progressive direction it’s always moved in, “Spock Amok” must have been particularly upsetting. It’s a relatively light episode, though it not only reveals Christine Chapel’s bisexuality, but features the second appearance of Adrian Holmes as Admiral Robert April. The character’s only canonical appearance before Strange New Worlds was in a 1974 episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series, in which he is drawn as a white man. Some fans were angry that the very first captain of the Enterprise would then be portrayed as a Black man, though plenty of fans and Trek creators disagreed, including Fred Bronson — the writer who created Robert April and publicly thanked Holmes for finally bringing the character into live action.

So far, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is enjoying one of the warmest receptions of any new Trek series in years. The show currently has a stellar 98% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, paired with an 81% audience score. “Spock Amok” marks the halfway point of the first season, with five more episodes to drop before the wait for season 2, which was green lit before season 1 even aired.