One of the reasons I chose to highlight The Fosters, is that this is the first show on television that honors and authenticates queer family values. The Fosters, tackles a myriad of contemporary family issues – and at the center of all of this are two moms and their children. The children have come into the family through birth (previous heterosexual relationship that ended in divorce), adoption (mixed-race twins born to a drug addicted mother), foster care (a brother and sister who experienced extreme abuse from their previous foster homes). Yes, all of this comes together in one home – and The Fosters does a beautiful job unpacking the complexities and intersectionalities in each episode.
In this episode, we experience a concept that we do not see in contemporary media – the differences in the values that we can learn from growing up in an LGBTQ family. This clip respectfully and eloquently portrays what many COLAGErs (people with LGBTQ parents) have experienced in our families – experiencing marginalization (bullying, feelings of isolation, homophobia), being made to feel unsafe, and then learning from our parent/s and each other how to navigate that while being empowered to stand up for ourselves and for others. Lena explains, "If you are taught to hide what makes you different, you end up feeling a lot of shame about who you are, and that is not okay." Quintessential queer family values include respect for others and their paths, empathy, an understanding of what it feels to be marginalized and to help lift up others who are experiencing this, inclusivity, and empowerment to be our best selves.
The Fosters is a reflection of the unique and powerful values that we see in our families. The show skips the painful hilarity that has allowed LGBTQ families on TV to be acceptable; gay dads who adopt daughters to play dress up, racist jokes when white parents struggle to answer the questions of trans-racially adopted children, the advent of “gaycism”, the bigoted grandma who cracks homophobic jokes at intended gay dads, the perpetuation of the myth that LGBTQ families are just like straight families – and move us right into a real place where we can finally laugh and cry with a family who experiences what we have.