DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: My best friend, Karen, has two moms instead of a mom and a dad. Because of this, my mom won't let me spend the night at her house. My mom doesn't have a problem with me there in the daytime, but she is "not comfortable" with me spending the night in "such a household." Karen's moms are very nice people. One is a lawyer, and the other is a college professor. They have been together 20 years (much longer than my parent's marriage lasted) and got married last year when it was legal in California. My mom admits she's not worried they would try something sexual with me. So what is she worried about? And how can I convince her not to? - Candace
Hannah, 16: My grandfather is gay and married to another man. He's one of the best examples of a good person to know and his lifestyle does not concern me a bit. But I told one of my close friends about it and since then I've had a hard time making friends at all. I love my grandfather and if people don't appreciate him, that's their problem. Both moms sound like respectable people with a great relationship.
Akasha, 16: I had a friend with two mothers and they were sweet, normal people. I didn't feel unsafe or uncomfortable at all. Parents never worry about the mother or father of a straight couple hitting on their kid. Your mother needs to realize these women are grown adults. There is nothing to suggest they would do anything inappropriate.
Ashley, 23: How would your mother feel if Karen wasn't allowed to spend the night because she was divorced? Has your mom even met your friend's moms? It's time she knew that these women are humans.
Maureen, 18: It should absolutely not be a problem. They have been "married" for years. It is not like they are being promiscuous. You are in a perfectly safe home environment. Keep talking to your mom and include Karen's moms in the discussion.
Katelyn, 15: Your mom's rule relates to her beliefs. Like myself, she doesn't approve of same-sex couples and is worried that by spending too much time with them, you'll think it is OK.
DEAR CANDACE: Katelyn has the best explanation for your mother's rule. Nonetheless, your mother is handling her fears counterproductively. As more and more people live openly gay or bisexual lives, and others switch back and forth from being straight, people are confused. Is this all genetic or is there a social conditioning aspect? You can't find more polarization or phobia on an issue. My mailbox is filled with letters like yours. Ultimately, however, phobic and polarized reactions usually stimulate behavior rather than diffusing it. (Notice what it's done to you.)
Not that complacency is the answer either. There is a middle way. The middle way requires compassion and perspective that any of us could be gay: You could be gay. I could be gay. And being gay (or bisexual) doesn't make someone "bad." We always need to remember we are human beings first and foremost.
My advice to parents like yours: Learn to talk about sexuality frankly. Let your teens know they are loved regardless of sexuality. Find situations in life or movies where sexual expression appears genetic and where it appears conditioned. Ask questions. Be curious and dumb for a change - on this subject we all are. Share what sexual integrity means to you personally, even admit your biases, but refrain from judging others.
Candace, you sound straight. Start a conversation with: "Mom, I know I'm straight. Do you know how I know?" Then tell her what you know about yourself and why.
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