The Fosters is a totally rare, but totally great example of diversity. The ABC Family drama centres on a married, interracial lesbian couple – Lena and Stef Adams-Foster – who deal with all of the usual trials and tribulations of raising a family and being good role models to their children. We haven’t seen an interracial lesbian couple featured so prominently on our TV screens since the appearance of Bette and Tina on The L Word.
And while The Fosters has been praised for its positive representation and the way that it treats the lives of these two queer women with the same respect as any heterosexual married couple, the show is also a triumph for queer children. This was made incredibly clear with the show’s portrayal of their son Jude as he questioned his gender presentation and his sexuality.
More: How TV Culture and Lesbian Visibility Have Changed After The L Word
In his storyline, we discover that Jude’s previous foster parents hit him when they found him trying on a dress and in the Stef-Adams household no one bats an eyelid when he paints his fingernails blue. Sadly though, ignoring the warnings from his sister Callie that people at school might not be so crazy on the idea of a boy who uses cosmetics, Jude goes to school and gets beaten up by a group of boys. When Jude’s new friend Connor paints his nails blue in solidarity though, the connection between the two boys begins to develop into a romance. In another scene, where the two boys go to the movies with two girls, we see them lift up the armrest to link their pinkie fingers and although it’s such a small act, that scene on TV right there is helping to tell queer kids everywhere that their identities are ok.
The Fosters makes that especially clear when Jude asks Lena how she knew she was gay, after he gets jealous over Connor with a girl. Stef tells him the following:
“Oh, honey. That’s totally normal. Not normal, that’s not what I mean. You know, let’s not use the word normal at all. Honey, everybody gets jealous when their friend gets a boyfriend or girlfriend. Everybody. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re gay or that you’re not. And if you are or you’re not, it really doesn’t matter to us either way. We love you no matter what because you’re you.”
Meanwhile, The Fosters creator Peter Paige (who also worked on Queer As Folk) has said that “I don’t think that we’ve decided anything definitive about Jude. Jude is curious, and we’re exploring that.”
Together, the show is fostering a positive attitude about queer identities where viewers are able to understand that exploring or questioning your sexuality is A-ok, while parents of those with children who may be exploring or questioning learn how to support it. For parents and queer children alike it’s not always easy to put your feelings into words but The Fosters is aiding that and so it certainly deserves praise.