'The Fosters' Can't Ignore Jude's LGBT Questions

by Christine DiStasio

Did you know that there's a "Spin the Bottle" app for your iPhone? Well, apparently ABC Family's The Fosters does. On last Monday's episode of The Fosters , "Play," Jude invited some girls over to the big Foster Bash and the show left his sexuality in question again. The second episode of Season 2 brought Connor's dad into the picture to address and challenge Jude's sexual orientation, a storyline that was buried during Season 1. Jude is questioning whether or not he's gay and it looks like that important storyline is about to get buried again. And that is a really a huge problem.

The way The Fosters reintroduced the LGBTQ storyline of Jude's sexual orientation was flawed and generic, mostly because the whole angry-homophobic-dad-won't-let-his-son-sleepover situation is painfully archaic in today's society and especially on a series like The Fosters. This is a series that addresses sexuality, race, and a handful of other difficult topics each week. The Fosters isn't your average family drama: it portrays a family that is new to finding acceptance on a grand scale, and it shows them both in good qualities and bad. Fans should expect more than just your average, run-of-the-mill, pre-Glee address of a young boy's questions about sexual orientation. But that's not the only issue here.

Again, The Fosters addresses a lot of situations that are equally pressing — the foster care system, bullying, and racism in school, for example. Season 2 has already introduced Mariana's struggles with the dance team "filling a race quota;" Stef and Lena's relationship trouble and putting them in a homophobic situation; and the flaws in the foster system and how they effect Callie and other kids like her. They make up some heavy stuff, but they are issues that we can no longer ignore on television. Unfortunately, because this is a show about Callie and her search for a family that'll accept her, The Fosters often drops other major storylines in favor of keeping her struggle at the forefront. As such, Jude's sexuality will probably get lost again in Season 2.

Still, last week, fans expected a breakthrough and they got one — sort of. When Connor showed up at Jude's unannounced and without permission, and he was all good and ready to smooch him because Spin the Bottle says so, we got something. We got a reassurance that Connor isn't his father and that he, like many people, isn't stuck in the past with an outdated opinion about being involved with members of the LGBT community.

And while I was happy for Jude — he didn't have to lose his friend, even though there was never any confirmation that he was gay in the first place — unfortunately, Connor's dad broke up the moment. We didn't get to see any conversation between Connor and Jude about his father's accusations and what was about to happen. And that situation left Jude in a moment where he blatantly tried to appease Connor's father by pretending he was in some type of relationship with the girls he invited over. With that lacking conclusion, the whole moment fell short.

However, looking ahead to the synopsis, promo, and clips from Monday night's episode, "Say Something," it looks last week's episode is the last we'll hear of Jude's sexual orientation for awhile. The Fosters will shift its focus to Callie meeting her biological half-sister and how it'll effect her relationship with Jude and her adoption; Mariana's struggles with the dance team's view of her nationality; and Lena's struggles with Timothy at work.

First, we have no mention of Jude or what happened at the party last week and second, this snag in his relationship with Callie will close him off. Jude is so fiercely loyal to Callie. She's his sister and the only person he had for a long time — seeing her wanting to meet her other sibling will hurt him and, by extension, stop him from opening up to her about anything he's feeling right now. And because Jude is so sensitive, this slight betrayal of his bond with Callie will keep him from talking to anyone else in the family as well — he's going to feel alone.

I don't see Callie meeting her sister as being a one-time situation and because this is a show about Callie, this new relationship with her other biological family is going to become a huge part of The Fosters this season. Which means that Jude, again, is going to fall by the wayside — just like last season when he painted his nails and Callie was angry and when he tried to talk sexuality with Lena, but she really just assured him that what he was feeling might now be what he thought. The Fosters came on strong with the storyline with Connor's father questioning Jude's sexual orientation and whether or not he could allow his son to be so close to him and it seems like the writers are going to let up just as quickly. And it's a real shame.

Jude is a fan-favorite character and, unfortunately, one of The Fosters' least focused on characters of the series. Brushing this storyline about his LGBTQ status under the rug yet again would be a disappointing turn for The Fosters and a huge error for the series. Callie is a central character who is struggling — we get it — but The Fosters needs to stop making Jude's questions about his sexuality seem like they're less important than what everyone else has going on.

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