A kiss between two 13-year-old male characters on the ABC Family show The Fosters is making waves for reportedly being the youngest same-sex kiss in American television history.
The smooch aired on Monday night’s episode of The Fosters and took place between main character Jude (played by 14-year-old actor Hayden Byerly) and his best friend, Connor (played by 15-year-old actor Gavin MacIntosh).
“This story line is important in so many ways,” said MacIntosh in an interview with entertainment site Just Jared Jr. “It’s been eye-opening about how many kids struggle with feeling ‘OK’ about questioning their sexuality.”
There was conversation nationally on social media in reaction to Jude and Connor’s exchange, with hashtags like #Jonner and #JonnerKiss trending on Twitter shortly after the kiss was aired Monday night.
— Bradley Bredeweg (@BradleyBredeweg) March 3, 2015
— Rizwana (@Rizzywanaxo) March 3, 2015
— Real eyes (@me_sjoukje) March 3, 2015
— Mistofer Rehl (@krisrehl) March 3, 2015
The Fosters, which premiered on ABC Family in June 2013, centers on lesbian couple Stef and Lena (actresses Teri Polo and Sherri Saum) and their family; they are parents to Jude and four other children. The show last year brought in a transgender male character named Cole (played by the nonbinary actor Tom Phelan).
This isn’t the first time a prime-time television show has featured a same-sex kiss between young people. An April 1993 episode of the CBS program Picket Fences titled “Sugar & Spice” portrayed a lip lock between same-sex teens, but instead of 13-year-old boys, the characters were 16-year-old girls. However, network censors would not allow the kiss to be shown clearly as originally filmed, but insisted the scene be reshot with the girls “blurrily submerged almost entirely in darkness, briefly accompanied by sounds of kissing,” the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.
Now observers are viewing the “Jonner” kiss as a milestone in diversity. “Boy/girl crushes at 13 are portrayed a lot on TV,” MacIntosh said in his Just Jared Jr. interview. “But to represent something different — I am proud of that.”