Nonprofit organization Outfest, which describes its mission as “[promoting] LGBT equality by creating, sharing and protecting LGBT stories on the screen,” recently announced that it will be honoring Freeform at this year’s Legacy Awards. The network, known for LGBT-inclusive programming such as Pretty Little Liars, The Fosters, and Becoming Us, will receive the Corporate Trailblazer Award on Oct. 23.
At Pop City Life, we’ve recapped The Fosters since season 2 and have been following the series since the pilot. Here’s a look at how the show likely contributed to Freeform winning the Outfest award.
Back in March 2015, Freeform made history by featuring TV’s youngest same-sex kiss. In The Fosters 2×18, Jude and Connor kissed onscreen following an offscreen kiss on a camping trip and an adorable hand-holding situation while at the movies. Beyond depicting a teen same-sex kiss, The Fosters also tackled the topic of gay stereotyping, with Stef (herself a lesbian) commenting that Connor didn’t “seem gay.” Actor Gavin MacIntosh expanded upon that aspect of the story line in a January interview with Pop City Life:
I think fans need to remember the message that Connor himself spread to break the stereotype of a typical gay guy. He’s a jock, so I think that him being gay and showing you don’t have to act in a way society would say was gay to be gay was one of Connor’s most positive and impactful messages.
Of course, Jude and Connor aren’t the only LGBT characters on The Fosters. At the head of the titular family, Stef and Lena juggle married life, their careers, financial problems, health issues, and raising a small horde of teenagers while still trying to find time for romance. Although onscreen LGBT representation has increased over the years, LGBT characters aren’t always written or portrayed in thoughtful, well-rounded ways – and many go on to meet untimely ends, as illustrated by this Autostraddle list – which makes the show’s depiction of Stef and Lena as parents, daughters, and working professionals all the more welcome.
Although transgender characters also crept up in number on TV and the silver screen in recent years, many were (and continue to be) portrayed by cisgender actors – Laverne Cox of Orange is the New Black is an all-too-rare exception. With this in mind, it’s notable that the two trans characters on The Fosters are both played by trans actors (Tom Phelan and Elliot Fletcher as Cole and Aaron, respectively).
Congratulations to Freeform for being named a corporate trailblazer in terms of onscreen LGBT representation! We look forward to seeing more LGBT characters depicted on The Fosters and other Freeform shows.