Straight Talk Advice

Oct 05, 2011

This gay-straight sleepover not black and white

DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: Our daughter is gay/bisexual. We have no problem with that. I have read your gay-straight sleepover columns, but they are focused on friendships. My gay/bi teen wants a sleepover with a straight friend who she admits she also likes romantically. This friend, “Sally,” appears unsure of her sexuality (she has a boyfriend but also seems to like our daughter). We can’t tell if Sally is “testing the waters” or just likes the extra attention. The dilemma is if we say no, we set up the possibility that our daughter will hide future feelings just so she can have sleepovers. If we say yes, we may be assisting in a sexual experience too early for emotional wellbeing. I would never allow a straight girl and straight guy with attraction to have a sleepover. Our gut says to say no. Your thoughts? — Patricia

Taylor 14, Santa Rosa, Calif. Ask me a question

I’m straight and know who I am. A friend came out as gay and we still sleep over. Nothing changed. But your situation is different. If I had a straight guy sleep over, and there was an attraction and possible “readiness” by either of us, that would be inappropriate.

Matt 16, Mission Viejo, Calif. Ask me a question

Because I’m straight, girls are not allowed in my bedroom or anywhere out of earshot in our home. If I was gay, my parents would be the same with males. A serious sexual experience as a teen can be harmful emotionally. Tell your daughter you need to get to know Sally better before a sleepover can even be considered.

Katelyn 16, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

I would say no, too. But tell your daughter why. A close encounter could be damaging to both girls. Ask your daughter to stay honest with you no matter what. Remind her that sneaking around will only cause future relationships to end badly.

Catherine 24, Hudson, N.Y. Ask me a question

I have no answer. I am bi and had many romantic “sleepovers” in high school. But I also had real sleepovers with queer friends where there was no romantic interest. I would have been heartbroken if my parents had refused those. My parents never asked and I never offered information about my romantic life. They were gone a lot and there were few rules. I wish my parents had been stricter when I was young. But for teens, it’s unrealistic to control everything. Not everything happens under your roof. Have a frank conversation and hopefully she will continue her honesty.

Sarah 19, Redding, Calif. Ask me a question

The open communication you have is admirable. You are smart to make preserving it a priority! Is there any way the sleepover could be “monitored”? Romantic activity is significantly lowered by lack of privacy.

Christina 19, Marysville, Calif. Ask me a question

I’ve been dating my boyfriend two years and we don’t have sleepovers. My parents don’t approve and I accept that. Do not put your daughter into this situation. Things could end horribly. Tell her what you wrote us, that you “would never allow a straight girl and straight guy with attraction to have a sleepover.”

DEAR PATRICIA: Follow your gut. Judging from your easy communication, your daughter respects you, so don’t lose her respect by becoming spineless around worrying whether she might start lying if you deny her what is sensible to deny. The sleepover and the honesty are separate issues — one is yours and one is hers. Regarding the sleepover, say no as you would to any underage couple with sexual attractions. Honesty is her end of the bargain. Make it known that you expect her to continue it. If she’s not being honest, hopefully you will discern that and intervene. If you don’t and something happens, she will have only herself to blame.

Editor’s Note: Parents: Kids and teens love you to actually parent. They don’t act like they do, but I can assure you from testimony over and over again, teens respect parents who take the role of the parent. This means having a backbone, playing fair, and being consistent. Nothing will serve you better. This is easiest if you have had a backbone, been consistent, and played fairly all along and have built up parental respect through childhood. If you haven’t done this when your child is young, often there is rebellion if you start when they’re teens. It still can be done, but if that’s your situation, you will need all the strength you possess to keep that backbone upright through the storms. Fair weighing of issues will be essential or all-out rebellion can take place. It’s worth it. Your teen will appreciate it in the long run, and often even the short run.

Teens who are bi or gay: You’ve got to admit that it’s a big challenge for parents to figure out who you like versus who you more-than-like when there are no gender clues. If you aren’t honest, you are liable to not be allowed any sleepovers. Parents of straight kids pretty much say no to sleepovers of all opposite gender kids, regardless of whether they are friends or not. So, unless you want the same treatment (which would mean all of both genders if you are bi, and all of your own gender if you are gay), play fair and be impeccably honest about who your friends are, versus who your “interests” are. You’ll be doing yourself and the entire gay/bi population a favor. —Lauren

  1. By Annie, age , from Folsom, CA on 10/06/2011

    As a person who happens to be gay, I can say from my experience that there is nothing to worry about.  I actually have many more straight girlfriends than gay ones and we have sleepovers all the time.  We also undress in front of each other with no problem and seeing each other naked does not lead to sex or even cause me to desire to have sex with straight friends.  I even share a bed with some of my friends and again, there is no sex.  However, there still is lots of prejudice about this as has been discussed in previous Staight Talk columns.  One friend’s mom banned me from sleepovers when she found out I’m gay and told my friend that she was “expecially concerned” because she shares a room with her 10 year old sister as if I’m going to try to forcibly have sex with a 10 year old with her sister right there in the room! Give me a break! I also share a room with my younger stepsisters on visitations and they have no problem with it and neither does anyone else in the family and it has never been a problem.  It really angers me when people make the assumption that someone who happens to be gay is just out for sex in every situation.

    Reply to this comment

  2. By J.L., age , from Toledo, OH on 10/07/2011

    I agree with Annie.  I am gay and go to slumber parties and have sleepovers with straight friends all the time and also share a room with my sister who is straight.  I have to admit that I sometimes feel a sexual attraction to some of my straight friends who have attractive bodies and I see them nude.  However, there is no way that I am going to act on these feelings.  I know that they would not been interested in anything sexual with me, so there would be no point.  Sleepovers and slumber parties are an important bonding experience for teenage girls, and you shouldn’t be excluded due to your sexual orientation.  I have never heard of it leading to sex.  I have a gay girlfriend and we’re affectionate, but I don’t even have actual sex with her, so I certainly wouldn’t with my straight friends.


    Reply to this comment

  3. By Debbie, age , from Carmichael, CA on 10/07/2011

    All of the letters I’ve seen in Straight Talk on this issue have involved girls, so I would like to write about our situation.  Our older brother is openly gay.  Our family totally accepts this.  However, his boyfriend spends the night in his room nearly every weekend.  While nobody talks about it, there is little doubt that they are having sex.  His room is right next to the room my sister and I share and even though they try to be quiet, we sometimes hear certain things that make us very uncomfortable.  Because of this, we are too embarrassed to have friends over for sleepovers in our room when they would know that gay sex was going on right in the next room.  We don’t think this is fair to us and wish they could find someplace else to have sex.


    Reply to this comment

Comment Form

Straight Talk Advice readers are known for their frank and constructive posts that lead to insightful conversations that help many people! Please keep these guidelines in mind when posting:

  • Be constructive: Needlessly cruel or obscene comments will probably be removed. Be conscious of this so your point can be heard.
  • Be relevant: Spam or senseless character attacks irrelevant to the discussion will also probably be removed.

Happy posting!

Straight Talk Advice Recommends