Since its premiere in 2013, "The Fosters" has been at the forefront of groundbreaking storytelling. Its portrayals of strong LGBT characters is truly inspiring, but perhaps the show's greatest triumph might be the journey of 13-year-old Jude Foster (Hayden Byerly).
In the most recent episode of "The Fosters," the ABC Family series made history for airing the youngest same-sex kiss on television. The kiss between Jude and his best friend Connor (Gavin Macintosh) was unprecedented, sure, but it was also a huge moment for Jude, who had been struggling with his feelings for his friend since season one. (Also, it was about damn time!)
"We've been building this relationship, this friendship, since almost the beginning of the series," co-creator Bradley Bredeweg told MTV News. "Everyone finally has a first kiss, and we knew that because we had taken so much time to develop this friendship, it just felt like the right time."
Jude and Connor's chemistry has been apparent since the first season. The boys bonded when Connor painted his nails blue in a show of solidarity with Jude, who was being bullied at school for doing the same. That was the touching moment we -- and the rest of the internet -- fell in love with Jonnor. "That was the moment, for us, when we realized we were doing something important," Bredeweg said.
"You just do your best to put the right stories up on the board," he added. "And the fact that we find ourselves here is a wonderful, beautiful thing."
So where do Jude and Connor go from here? "Jude is going to take the time that he needs to figure this out," said Bredeweg. "Sexuality at 13 is a very tender thing."
And that's exactly what makes Jude's story so different from the other LGBTQ characters on TV. Since day one, the writers have done an incredible job of not putting a label on Jude and, most importantly, letting him figure things out for himself.
"Sexuality in this modern world, you don't necessarily have to put a label on it anymore," Bredeweg said. "Jude's whole journey so far is 'I just want to be who I am. Why do you have to call it anything?' That's a beautiful way of looking at sexuality because eventually, we're not going to have to call it anything. We're just going to accept love as love is, and that's definitely what we're trying to portray here."
When "The Fosters" returns with tonight's (March 9) episode, we pick up "post-kiss" and according to Bredeweg, Jonnor "are just figuring things out." But fans might want to brace themselves for impact. "We have a big cliffhanger for Jude and Connor coming up at the end of [tonight's] episode," he said.
"We have a very loud fanbase," Bredeweg added. "And they are so supportive and so fantastic, and to hear how much this means to everyone has been wonderful."
As for the haters, well, Bredeweg has a message for them too. "There's always going to be those loud voices in the world, and you just have to move on," he said.
"We have a very supportive circle here," he added. "It's been an open dialogue from the very beginning. These two incredible actors, Gavin [Macintosh] and Hayden [Byerly], always knew where we were taking these characters. We sat down with them from the very beginning, along with their parents, and we've always talked about these things. They were prepared for it; they were excited about it."
For the most part, Jude's coming of age story mirrors that of Bredeweg and "Fosters" co-creator Peter Paige. But there is one huge difference: they didn't have a Jude Foster to look up to. "Some of things that Jude is doing on our show are things that I wish I could have done at that age, so it's wish fulfillment for us as well," Bredeweg told us. "To be able to put this character into the world at this time is really important to us, because really, truly if there was a Jude on television in the late 80s then life would have been a lot easier for both of us -- and everyone at that moment in time."
Hopefully, Bredeweg and Paige's brave storytelling on "The Fosters" will inspire others to take the same risks. As we seen, given the recent success of Fox's "Empire" and the CW's "Jane The Virgin," people want to see stories that represent them, and that's the kind of diverse storytelling the writers of "The Fosters" strive for.
"I hope that we're able to put real people up on the screen at the end of the day," Bredeweg said. "We want to represent as many people out there as possible, and hopefully, TV continues to do that -- and every form of entertainment. Because entertainment is a very powerful tool. I'm glad that we're part of the conversation now, and we need to continue to talk about these things."