It was the kiss between seventh graders that was heard around the world. Or at least that went viral via social media, sparking controversy and conversations about teenage sexuality. The Fosters, ABC Family’s progressive hit drama about two moms and their very modern mix of biological, adopted, and fostered kids, made waves this year when 13-year-old Jude Jacob (played by 15-year-old Hayden Byerly) had an onscreen kiss with Conor (played by 16-year-old Gavin MacIntosh). It was epic for Jonnor fans, as the duo had been dubbed, but it was also hailed as the youngest same-sex kiss on TV. At first, YouTube age-restricted the clip, until Macintosh slammed the company in a series of tweets (that have since been deleted), stating: "WHAT?! YouTube blocking #jonnor scene w/ age restrictions? 100% discrimination & homophobia! SO innocent compared to what’s on YouTube!"
After it all died down, how has it affected the young man’s career? "It really has been great. Honestly, four or five years ago, when I began acting, I would never have expected to be playing a gay character or to be here talking about this," Macintosh says. "The whole journey has been incredible, and it’s opened my eyes to so many things and aware of issues the world facing now."
In addition to his time on The Fosters and Bones, MacIntosh spent this summer filming scenes for American Fable in rural Illinois, an indie film he describes as a "fairytale thriller," and in which he plays something completely different for him. "I’m this sadistic, evil kid," he says. "It was a fun time and seeing a different way of life out in the Midwest."
He was also featured in his girlfriend Brooke Sorenson’s video for her song "3 Days." We filmed that a while ago, but it was kept as a sort of secret," he says, explaining he met Sorenson at his dad’s birthday party a year ago.
In fact, MacIntosh credits his family for supporting him so that he can achieve so much, including portraying a young gay man on television. "I think the first thought everyone had was, What impact would this have on kids my age," he says. "On my end, there was no negative thoughts whatsoever: My family supported it, and I would have had a tough time if they didn’t support it. I’m lucky enough to have parents that do support me."
In fact, MacIntosh has revealed that his first kiss in his life took place onscreen during a different episode of The Fosters, during Season 2 when he kissed young actress Piper Mackenzie Harris during a game of spin the bottle.
So why does he think people made a big deal about his same-sex kiss and not that other hetero one? "I don’t know. It should be that, having a gay kiss onscreen is the same as a straight kiss," he says. "Eventually they should just regard it the same. We still have a lot of work to do."
Watch a clip from The Fosters when Jude and Connor kiss below: