It appears that Star Trek made history again in casting two gay actors, Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz, to play a same-sex couple on the series.

It may boggle the mind, but it is a rarity in Hollywood for leading gay characters in TV shows to actually be played by gay actors. And when same-sex couples are part of a series, it’s an unwritten rule that at least one of the actors has to be straight.

For half a century, the Star Trek franchise has been challenging social taboos and breaking barriers for actors in Hollywood. In the original series (Star Trek: TOS), with the casting of Nichelle Nichols and George Takei, the series brought the first African American and Asian American actors into living rooms via television as matter-of-fact additions to the crew.

In the new series, Rapp and Cruz play Chief Engineer Paul Stametz and Dr. Hugh Culber, a middle aged couple serving aboard the U.S.S. Discovery. They also are the only long-term romantic relationship. This is not the first time these two actors have worked together; they both appeared on Broadway in the musical, Rent.

Lt. Commander. Hugh Culber (played by Wilson Cruz) comforts Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) during the final scene of Star Trek: Discovery episode, “Choose Your Pain.”

“I’m so proud to continue the Star Trek legacy of diversity,” Cruz said of his role. ” For a Latino actor, getting cast as a doctor, a gay man, or a space explorer is a rarity, but to have all three in one role is truly groundbreaking.”

Although a series regular, so far Cruz is less prominent on the show as his co-star, Anthony Rapp, who prefers to term “queer” to gay, was surprised that he was asked to join the crew at all – let alone as its Chief Engineer. “I never thought I’d be a part of any of this,” Rapp told CBS News.

Not only are they the first same-sex couple on a Star Trek crew, they are the first romantic couple of any orientation in the series to serve alongside one another (Keiko and O’Brien of Deep Space Nine notwithstanding), allowing Trek for the first time to show early Starfleet expectations when primary crew members marry and serve together.

“It’s about how I balance my responsibilities as the ship’s doctor and how I balance my responsibilities to the person I love,” Cruz said.

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Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz attend the premiere of CBS’s ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ at The Cinerama Dome on September 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

BIOS

Lt. Paul Stametz

Character Actor Links
Lieutenant Paul Stamets  Anthony Rapp Has been acting and singing professionally since he was nine years old. With an extensive list of achievements, Rapp is best known for originating the role of Mark Cohen in Jonathan Larson's Tony Award-winning rock opera, Rent, for which he shared an OBIE Award with the rest of the cast.

Lt. Cmdr. Hugh Culber, M.D.

Character Actor Links
Dr. Hugh Culber  Wilson Cruz He won the hearts of audiences playing Rickie Vasquez on ABC's My So-Called Life. It was the first openly gay teen role to air on network primetime television. On the frontlines of LGBT advocacy, Cruz recently served as the Director of Entertainment Industry Partnerships and as National Spokesperson for GLAAD, the nation’s leading LGBT media advocacy organization.