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- American actress
Well, just when we thought it was impossible to love Mariska Hargitay's Capt. Olivia Benson any more, she gave us a pretty great reason to on Thursday night's "Law & Order: SVU."
At the end of the episode, her son, Noah (Ryan Buggle), who's about 8 years old, made a very big — and important — revelation to his mom: that he is bisexual.
His coming out happened after a cruel instance of bullying at the beginning of the episode, when Noah could be seen on all fours in a cage with a collar on being told by a boy named Hudson, who was filming the scene on his phone, to "bark like a dog."
Not long after, Hudson's mom stumbles upon the scene with Olivia close behind, and Hudson insists they "were just playing," and Noah says the same when asked by his mom if he's OK.
"Let's get you home," Olivia says, as she ushers him out of the room.
Outside, Olivia asks Noah to explain what happened, and while Noah remains silent, she follows up wondering why his neck is red.
"If I tell you, will you stop asking?" he replies. "Hudson's a jerk. He put his dog's collar on me, locked me in the cage and he wanted me to eat dog food."
"What!" Olivia says, as she bends down to speak to her son at eye level.
"I said, 'No,'" Noah explains. "I don't want to talk about it anymore."
Olivia and her squad catch a case, so the conversation with Noah doesn't pick back up until the episode's final scene when mother and son are taking an evening walk together.
Olivia informs Noah she suggested to Hudson's mom that the next play date be at their house instead.
She also tells him she talked to Hudson's mom about the dog cage incident, even though he told her not to mention it.
"Mom, I asked you not to! Hudson's just an idiot, no one likes him anyway," Noah says. "He bullies everyone: It was just my turn to be his target."
When Olivia asks why, Noah says he doesn't understand why and explains how Hudson went after other kids, including one who uses they/them pronouns whom Hudson started calling "a fairy."
"Then I said that I was bi," Noah tells his mom.
At this moment, the camera lingers on Olivia's face as she takes in her son's news. (Again we ask: Where is Hargitay's Emmy?)
"And that there's no shame in being true to yourself," Noah continues.
"That's right, Noah," Olivia, clearly proud, replies, acknowledging how her son stood up for himself as well as the other bullied kid.
"That is incredibly brave," she says.
"Well, it's my truth. I just hadn't told anybody before," he tells her.
"Well thank you for telling me," Olivia says, smiling at her son.
"No big deal," he replies. "It's not like I have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it's just not fair for anybody to be left out."
"I hear that," Olivia says while pulling Noah in for a hug and dropping a kiss on his head, "I'm really proud of you."
In that moment, Olivia let Noah take the lead in the chat and didn't interrupt or push him as he spoke his truth. She also treated their talk like any other conversation.
After the episode aired, Buggle opened up about his character's big moment and how Hargitay supported him ahead of filming.
"Filming this episode was such an important, incredible and exciting experience for me. @therealmariskahargitay personally called me to talk about the script before it was finished and I felt so involved and respected," he wrote on Instagram.
"It is incredible to see Noah beginning to discover who he is. My feelings are the same, there is no shame in being true to yourself and no one deserves to be left out or bullied because of it," he continued.
"I wanted to take the time to connect you with an incredible organization that I’ve learned about that is creating safe and inclusive K-12 environments for all students. @GLSEN thank you for all you do. ~Ryan #noahbenson #svu"
"SVU" fans took to Twitter to share their thoughts on the scene.
"noah knowing he has the love and support from his mom to not be nervous to come out as bi made me actually sob," one person wrote.
"As a leader of the LGBTQ club at my school, I loved seeing Noah come out and be so comfortable with himself. We need all kids to be like this! @RyanBuggle @lawandordertv," another tweeted.
"it’s noah feeling comfortable enough to come out as bisexual in the way that he chose to, just shows one of the many attributes that make olivia benson such a wonderful mom and human being. they’re both so lucky to have each each other. #svu," someone else shared.