Monday, March 2, ABC Family’s “The Fosters” featured what has come to be known as the youngest same-sex kiss ever aired on television. Actors Hayden Byerly and Gavin MacIntosh portrayed the characters, and the moment was met with both unrest and approval on social media that night.
It doesn’t take a lot of digging around online to see the banal outcries we were all expecting: misquoted Bible verses, accusations of deviancy, thrown about slurs and laundry lists of reasons that this kind of thing is allegedly not OK for family programming.
I’m sure the show’s creators were also well aware of the toxic hailstorm of angry conservative vitriol they would see after the episode’s airing. But they went ahead with the decision to broadcast the scene, and I’ll say why that’s important in just a moment.
First, let’s think critically about what angry viewers are saying.
One article commenter named Rod wrote, “A kiss is just a kiss,” to which an angry Mike replied, “Whats (sic) disgusting is people like you lusting after them.”
Well, Mike, Rod never implied that anyone was lusting after the two characters, and he perhaps even implied the opposite.
Indeed, a kiss is just a kiss, and I have seen the kiss; it is mild, closed, and not sexual in the least. I’m expanding on Mike’s comment in particular because it exemplifies one of the most common misconceptions people have about the LGBTQ+ community: that we are all perverts, and anyone who supports us is a pervert.
Well, here’s the deal. Those two gay characters on television are normal, snotty kids like the rest of the normal, snotty kids who have been kissing on the air for as long as anyone can remember. They are as normal as anyone’s children. But no matter how much I dig into that fact, no matter how much evidence I provide, no homophobic article commenter will be swayed.
Another common critique of the issue is what Twitter user Glenn had to say: “Disgusting, why is this being forced on us?” Everyone has heard that one, too.
Yes, why is the LGBTQ+ community forcing its agenda on everyone? The thing is that we’re not, Glenn. None of us force you to turn on your television, let alone tune into “The Fosters” every Monday night.
This one scene in this one television show is a tiny space reserved for us in an almost exclusively heterosexual industry. And one of the greatest fortunes you have in my eyes, Glenn, is that you can change the channel and find yourself comfortably enjoying an endless supply of heterosexual kissing.
That makes me a little suspicious, Glenn, that you’re the one forcing something here.
But none of that would convince Glenn, nor would it convince anyone like him, because this kind of person doesn’t want to be convinced.
These people hold their values dear and won’t let the words of us so-called deviants have any effect on them. These people will continue to think we are perverted and continue to accuse us of forcing some kind of agenda. They won’t change because we’re not American enough to change them.
That is why the decision to broadcast the kiss is important. The show’s creators are brave to air the episode, and that sets an example for oppressed people who are afraid of their oppressors. Those characters aren’t going to apologize for being who they are, and neither should any of us.
To all the Glenns and Mikes out there, nobody is sorry about any of this.