Image Credit: ‘9-1-1,’ ABC

ABC’s first-responder drama 9-1-1 just keeps managing to get gayer and gayer!

In the latest episode, entitled “You Don’t Know Me,” out actor John Milhiser (who you may remember from his all-too-brief stint on SNL) guest stars as a convention speaker who suddenly loses control of his right hand and begins attacking himself, and our team of heroes is asked to come to the rescue.

Now, this isn’t the only reason we were tuned in to 9-1-1 this week, but, seriously, what other show is doing network procedural camp like this???

In actuality, we were seated to see the aftermath from last week’s surprise gay kiss between fan favorite Buck (Oliver Stark) and firefighter Tommy (Lou Ferrigno, Jr.)—a moment the scored a major reaction from longtime viewers and even had those unfamiliar with the show taking notice.

Up until that point, Buck had been characterized as something of a womanizer, never quite managing to stay in a relationship for long. Even he was shocked by his attraction to Tommy, but the moment they touched, sparks flew.

Now comes the hard part. Aside from the case of the man who can’t quit hitting himself, a large portion of “You Don’t Know Me” was dedicated to Buck coming to terms with his sexuality, both in terms of being seen out in public with a man and in coming out to his friends and family.

The first part of that equation? Well, he was off to a bumpy start. On his first date with Tommy at a pizza shop, Buck said he was an ally—”Every Pride Month, I put a rainbow sticker on my Instagram”—and insisted he wasn’t “weirded out” to be on a date with a dude. Somehow, it got worse from there.

When his best friend Eddie (Ryan Guzman) and Marisol (Edy Ganem) walked in, Buck clammed up immediately, and tried to tell them he and Tommy were on the prowl for women because “chicks love firefighters.” Sure, Jan!

Obviously, that didn’t go over well with Tommy, who ended date night early: “Evan, I think you’re adorable, but I don’t think you’re ready. I’ll see you around.” (Side note: Evan is Buck’s actual first name, it’s just that no one else calls him that but Tommy, which is kind of cute if you ask us.)

The moment proved to be a real wake-up call for Buck, who first worked up the courage to come out of the closet to his sister Maddie (Jennifer Love-Hewitt)—that was the easy part.

Then came the conversation with Eddie, which Buck kicks off by confessing he was on a date with Tommy the night they ran into each other at the restaurant. “Wait, Tommy’s gay?” Eddie reacted (classic straight guy, missing the clear signs right in front of him). “Not that it would have mattered.”

“Is that weird?” Buck asked. “No, absolutely not,” Eddie responded. “I mean, not in the same way as you evidently. This doesn’t change a thing between us, okay?”

Oh, sure, it all feels a little after-school special, but we can’t overstate how important it is to have mainstream television shows like 9-1-1 in the era of “Don’t Say Gay” not only making space for LGBTQ+ characters, but giving them room to explore the nuances of queerness.

Of course, not everyone’s been thrilled with the bisexual Buck storyline, but Oliver Stark already expertly told the haters off with the perfect message: “If one other character finding a new facet to his sexuality and realizing his bisexuality is your deal breaker—I fear you’ve missed the entire point of the show.”

With the homophobes effectively silenced, fans took to social media last night to sing the praises of 9-1-1 and how it’s handled Buck’s ongoing journey with his sexuality.

The storyline may not have been the Eddie-Buck romance their ‘shippers have long hoped for, but they’re greeting it with open arms just the same—and some even think the show’s setting the stage from Buck to realize he actually has feelings for his best friend.

Here’s how Gay Twitter reacted to the latest episode of 9-1-1:

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