The Fosters: Queer Childhood

milkboys Film & TV, Films & TV 41 Comments

The Fosters Explores the Fear and Possibility of Queer Childhood

the-fosters-connorIn the Feb. 9 episode of ABC Family’s The Fosters, 13-year-old Jude goes to the movies on a double date with Connor, his best friend, and Daria and Taylor, two girls from school. It seems Connor and Daria are there to make out, and they have brought Jude and Taylor along as cover.

When Jude takes his seat, Connor pointedly lowers the armrest between them. But after the lights go down, their pinkies touch and then cross. The camera cuts back and forth between their flushed faces, their eyes wide with nervous excitement and surprise at the intensity, while Daria and Taylor absently watch the “chick flick” they’ve supposedly come to see.

The scene is unexpectedly and palpably erotic—a feat that speaks to the richness and complexity with which the show has developed Jude’s storyline over its first two seasons. And yet it is clear that this touch will not provide a neat resolution to the questions about Jude and Connor’s relationship or sexuality, but, rather, will only deepen the exploration.

Jude is not the first queer teenager on television, but he is among the youngest—and he is the first to be raised by queer parents. The Fosters follows a modern family of a kind rarely seen on television—an interracial lesbian couple, Lena and Stef Adams-Foster, and their five racially diverse children: one biological; three adopted, including Jude; and one whose adoption has been repeatedly stalled—Jude’s sister Callie.

It’s a sentimental teen drama that manages at moments to show foster care and LGBTQ parenting with sensitivity and texture. But its most radical move may be in its depiction of Jude, played with thoughtful nuance by Hayden Byerly.

Read on…

Comments 41

  1. Spoiler Tag Please. Everybody wants a “conclusion” to Jude and Connor but not everbody can watch the episodes weekly. You just ruined the excitement watching that episode (although I stopped reading and maybe nothing happened at all but well .. Kopfkino you know :O!)

  2. ❦Had this show queued on Hulu but only watched the first episode. Had I known about Jude & Conner I may have watched more as their relationship seems really sweet especially now that I’ve checked out their clips on YouTube.

    1. Thanks Daveboy~
      Stateside I had no problem with this clip I just wanted to know more thus my trip to YT.
      ❦Actually liked your full clip better as it showed how thier couple seating came about. Also the conversation with his foster brother pre-date about the darkened theater aiding hookups was kind of funny considering how he seemed totally oblivious as to who Jude really wanted to connect with…

    2. Thanks, daveboy for that link. I went with devilena’s notation that your link is more complete since I still can’t see videos in milkboys unless I can d/l them from YT first.

      First, I’d like to offer kudos to both writers of that article — very well written. One or both seem to have a real handle how boys think and behave at that age (I like to think I have as well :-) ).

      That [longer] clip is very good and so enjoyable to watch. I remember doing the very same thing in a theater so I totally empathize with Jude and his reactions to the pinky move — started by Connor, which says a lot about Connor and the incredibly (and necessary!) secrecy needed to express any type of friendliness or even burgeoning love by either one or both of the boys.

      I just didn’t get a chance to see what brand/model of cologne the brother was spraying …. do any of you know what he used? Just curious.

  3. How have I not heard of this before? I check Milkboys, Advocate and Queerty daily. I’m one month shy of 78 and rely pretty much on novels and films for my social life and entertainment. If the rest of this is as good as this clip it’s going to be a great treat and, believe me, they keep getting more and more rare.

  4. Another passing comment:

    I just love how both boy were able to show the right amount of sexual tension — both showed incredibly well that their heartbeats were increasing and intesifying and Jude’s necessary swallow aced the scene.

    And it’s so interesting that Connor is “more concerned” about looking at Jude’s pinky than the girl he brought to the movie to see if she is seeing any of the “pinky moves”.


  5. “Group? That’s what people tell their parents when they don’t want them to know what they’re really doing.

    What are we really doing?

    “Going to the movies, a dark place you can do things with a …. [brain to interpret: wait, he said, ‘girl’ …. I should take that to mean a boy] that you can’t do in the light. … Hooking up?!”

  6. This is a very interesting series. I was looking through a few of the [fan-]videos of Jude & Connor and one of them showed them playing “Spin-The-Bottle”. After the 2 girls kissed each other, it showed the bottle being spun towards either Jude or Connor, meaning for both of them to kiss. As expected (after showing 2 girls kiss each other), for Jude & Connor, it would have to be an “almost kiss” so they won’t be chided forever from the religious right for having the balls to show 2 young teen boys kissing each other. Way to go …. Disney and ABC …. for showing you’re total assholes to cave in to the religious extremists here.

    1. If you had watched the episode where they played spin the bottle, you wouldn´t rage so much ;)

      It was actually really funny, because Judes sister bumped moments before they would have kissed in the room and told Connor, that his father, who thinks that Jude is gay and doesnt want his son to spent time with him because of this, has arrived and is looking for him.

      When the father then bumped into Judes room, Jude had two girls in his arm and told him that he was just hanging out with his girls and Connor sneaked out behind his fathers back… it was hilarious!

      1. @MR:
        “If you had watched the episode where they played spin the bottle, you wouldn´t rage so much”

        I watched quite a few of the videos (fan & otherwise) provided for that episode, particularly that “spin the bottle” game and as I said, they didn’t kiss, they just moved toward each other and Connor pulled away.

        And, again, as I said, “ it would have to be an “almost kiss” so they won’t be chided forever from the religious right for having the balls to show 2 young teen boys kissing each other

        And it was — (an “almost kiss”).

        1. Yea it WAS an almost kiss, but this show in no way does “cave in to the religious extremists here”

          Did you watch the promo for next weeks episode(link is in one of the comments above)

          And additionally: The history of the show itself shows that they take a stand against the religious extremists!

          FYI Even before the show startet goups like One Million Mums wanted ABCFamily to cancel the show and force them not to air it.

          Quote form wikipedia:

          “On October 8, 2012, more than seven months prior to the series debut, the socially conservative One Million Moms organization, […] condemned […] the show, encouraging audiences to boycott it.”

          Just because it showed a LOVING lesbian couple raising kids.

          And ABC Family defended the show and has it even renewed for its THIRD season just a few weeks ago!

      2. @MR:

        I’m not going to argue with you about what “One Million Moms” wanted or what ABC did finally. I’m cool with what you said.

        “Yea it WAS an almost kiss, but this show in no way does ‘cave in to the religious extremists here’ ”

        You obviously don’t know jack about what’s going on in America with the religious-right idiots. If Connor had actually kissed Jude (their lips actually touching and pressed together) you would have heard it for weeks in the news and all social networks and every church would have been up in arms and threatening (if not in the works already by their lawyers lined up, at the ready) to sue ABC/Disney for “promoting homosexuality to children over the airwaves”.

        I know what I’m talking about. You, though, sound just like a religious apologetic trying to smooth out “militants” like me who tell the truth and trying to make your religious-right seem “not so bad”.

        Situations just like this are going down in history just like same-sex marriage — the religious right will spend million$ to attempt to stop “gay information” to teens and pre-teens (the very ones who need these messages), but will FAIL (just like stopping same-sex marriages).

        1. Well you are right: I have no Idea how crazy and stupid the religios extremists are in the US, simply because i life in Germany and we had already same sex kisses in our children programing and most Germans don´t know about it, because they simply don´t care…

          Ok we also have some crazy religios idiots, but only a few and mostly without any political power at all.(that doesn´t mean we don´t have any issues in our country, but on this topic we are quite clean)

          Funny thing is THAT our christian party actually rules our country,but they are in no way as extreme as your republicans are ;) (although you could consider them as a conterpart)

          On the other hand i have to ask you, if you had watched the promo for next mondays episode?

          here is it again:

          Yea they don´t show a full kiss again in the promo, but i am quite sure we see it on monday(although it´s already Tuesday for me in Germany when it airs ^^)

          I am also pretty sure, they didn´t let them kiss in the spin the bottle scene for story reasons and nothing else…

        2. @MR:
          “On the other hand i have to ask you, if you had watched the promo for next mondays episode? … Yea they don´t show a full kiss again in the promo, but i am quite sure we see it on monday”

          Yes, I did see the promo from the earlier post. Again, you need to understand American ways. I would be very surprised if they actually kiss the way we are thinking. They show those kinds of promos all the time because they know it will get more viewers (and therefore more advert views as well). Most times, they never go through with the “promo sex act” (which the right-wingers will claim it is — corrupting young children’s minds with homosexuality).

          If they do, I can guarantee that the program’s LAWYERS are already filling out their suits [‘complaints’] against the religious right because they will have a field day railing against “America” (that they believe is their country and no one else’s).


          “I am also pretty sure, they didn´t let them kiss in the spin the bottle scene for story reasons and nothing else…”

          Well, of course it’s for “story reasons” …. [that’s sarcasm, bty]

          None of them will admit that the religious right lobby would make them change their minds …. so of course, they would say “it was in the story/script that way” and let it be.

        3. “Most times, they never go through with the “promo sex act””

          Jude and Connor will never have sex on the show, thats for sure.

          simply because of the age of the actors.

          They are 14 and 15 and Californian law prohebits real sexual contact in that age and that means any sexual action-> Gay AND straight.

          A kiss on the other hand would be totally fine considering the law.
          (Well as you said the crazy religous would probably still try something)

          We only have to wait a few more days, so:
          Let´s wait and see, ok ? ;)

      1. Thanks for that pic. But, what do you mean by “and ?”?

        Am I to assume you also think he has the same cute features as I asked about?

        1. @MR:
          “actually i was more pointing out his funny farmers tan ;)”

          Funny. You call it “farmers tan” ….. I (and others like me and ‘Jude’) call it the only tan we can get …. arms and legs because our complexion is so damn white (sun-burnable!).

        2. @Penboy

          You really need to calm down….

          You are way too agressive…

          I am sorry should i have written anything to insult you or anybody else.

          the selection of my words wasnt very wise, i am sorry, but english isn´t my native language, so please dont be so strict with me.

          With “funny” i didn´t mean laughable or somithing like that.

          I was just looking for a more unique word.

          I wanted to express it as “strange but in a good way” AND i didn´t want to use “cute” again because it was already overused ;)

          So tell me what words i should have used instead ;)

          Are we clear now?

        3. MR:
          “You really need to calm down….You are way too agressive…”

          Aggressive? I enjoyed your comment! That’s why I thought it was funny! I was just explaining about a “farmer’s tan” — for guys like us (Jude as well, by that pic) who are just too damn white and can’t tan much at all without burning. I was just like him with only my lower arms getting any “tan”.

          Maybe you should calm down?

        4. @Penboy

          ok maybe you are right ;)

          i am terrible at any form of sarcasm…

          and then even in another language…

          and even written, without any emphasis i could look out for…

          I don´t know how thats possible, to missunderstand somebody you don´t know and you only just read some sentences he wrote.
          Everybody else easily understands the intentions from anybody in the internet.

          (did i use that right?)

  7. I’m going to give my ‘usual’ critique of this situation (but, of course, I enjoyed it as much as the rest of you). OK, this is a bit hilarious. Stay with me on this:

    Seating “arrangement”:

    1. Daria wants to sit at the back of the theater so they won’t “hear others talking” which is obviously CODE for “It’s darker at the back so we can ‘make out’.” OK, so far, so good for Connor and Daria? So, they all go up to the back row of the theater. Then, Daria “insists” on sitting right next to the aisle, citing, “claustrophobia” [yeah, right … but helps out for the ABC/Disney film crew]. As anyone who’s done or at least seen enough [straight] dating will know, to ‘make out’ with a partner, you ALWAYS go to the CENTER of the row where it’s the darkest and (this may pre-date The Fosters a bit), it’s also more difficult for any theater worker/’usher’ to split apart the kissing faces (and usually expell them from the theater).

    2. Then, to make this even more funny [read: silly], they sit: GIRL-BOY-BOY-GIRL [again, helps out tremendously for the ABC/Disney film crew]. Again, as anyone who’s done or at least seen enough [straight] dating will know, no double-date seating is ever like this: it’s ALWAYS, BOY-GIRL-GIRL-BOY with the boys ALWAYS on the ‘outside’ or closest to any aisle (again, pre-dating this show, the boys would always the ones to get the food and drink for the girls).

    Preparation of the “pinky maneuver”:

    3. So, Connor pulls down the seat rest between them [again, helps out tremendously for the ABC/Disney film crew and the lighting]. Both boys put their arms on the rest and as soon as the theater darkens (for the sake of the ABC/Disney film crew) they start their “pinky maneuvers” [which we all see is so cute].

    4. Now, if any of you have been to a theater with your present “hottie”, you well know that you NEVER use any “arm-rest” to do your “hand maneuvers” — you ALWAYS use one of the seats next to his/your leg/thigh — either [his: you move your hand to him] or yours [he moves his hand to you] — it’s darker and no one will see these movements. The arm-rest is there for everyone to see everything — in reality, those girls would have seen every movement those boys made because it would have been in such a way to get their attention.

    5. Also, whenever we did anything like this, we wouldn’t use the “pinky maneuver,” we’d use our legs by slowly touching each other’s knee to begin with (it serves the same as the pinkies, but is less noticeable in the dark).

    Theater lighting:

    6. Another thing. The lighting of their “pinky maneuvers” — it was always BRIGHT and CONSTANT. For that to be “real”, the movie would have to be showing constant views of the sun at the beach to provide as much light as was used for Connor and Jude. The movie screen is ALWAYS FLICKERING and you see NO flicker of the lighting!

    Just a bit of criticism to show how the TV people will make things “easier” for them, but not as “real” as would have been. Don’t throw darts at me, just laugh a little.

  8. OK, after watching this more than a few times, [at this point, I have the volume turned up full] I hear some ‘whispering’ @ 2:31 — 2:32, but I can’t make out what is being said.

    Can any of you hear and understand this whispering?

  9. Got a joke for you from the risky Scottish Comedian Frankie Boyle. “After watching Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I thought I would become friends with Gay Men to give me Fashion Tips? Instead, they Fucked me”.

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