I'm a single 53-yr-old straight woman. In 2015, I met "Gary" through work and we became friends. He's gay, 56 and lives in a neighboring state. We share similar politics, interests, etc. I'm not attracted to him even though Gary's hit on me and suggested he was bi a couple of times. About a year ago he told me he is perusing his dream of becoming a foster/adoptive parent. I was surprised when he told me this, as Gary is in his 50s and single (although he did have a long-term boyfriend in the 1990s). Gary said, "I've had more fulfilling relationships with kids than I ever did with some insecure, middle-aged gay man." His words, not mine. For a couple of years, Gary lived with a single mother in Europe and was a nanny to her boys. A while back, I said to him, "What if your state's foster program contacts you and says we have a disabled 8-year-old girl we'd like you to foster?" Gary said it doesn't work that way, that there are books that adoptive parents get to pick and choose from and he was only interested in a teenage boy. In another conversation Gary let slip he's not talking to one of his former boyfriends who still lives in Europe. I asked why and he said when he told his ex he planning on adopting a boy his ex blew up at him and told him he hoped he went to prison for pedophilia and then hung up.

The flip side of this coin is me. I have a good friend "Lynn" where I live now who I went to high school with in 1983. In Washington state, eons ago in 1986, I slept with her younger brother "Paul." At the time, I was just 21 and Paul had just turned 16. Prior to our one-time sex, he actively pursued me. We were both attractive kids and it was no big deal. I saw him a couple of times several years after that, we had coffee and he told me about his girlfriend-now-wife. He's now in his forties, has four grown kids and has been married for decades. Back in 1986, Lynn, lost her shit when she found out I'd slept with her brother. It's been 30+ years and she is STILL upset about this, and has judged me for years because of it. Add to that, I'm a "single woman" the most dangerous creature a married person can know!

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Flash forward to now. Paul and his wife have had a bunch of health and money problems and have had their RV parked in Lynn's driveway for over a year. Every single time I ask Lynn if I can come by for coffee so we can chat, she says she's too busy or insists we go to a coffee shop as she doesn't want me running into her brother Paul. I find this manipulative micro-managing on Lynn's part super obnoxious. I have NO interest in Paul, zero interest in "wrecking his home", etc. I saw him for five minutes in January, he was friendly, we said "hi" and that was it.

Dan, I don't have designs on any 16-year-old boys! I'm not a pedophile and I'm not interested in luring any married man back to my crummy apartment. However, I really value my friendship with Lynn. She has a lot of contacts in this area and has been instrumental in my moving here.

I also really value my friendship with Gary but am feeling uncomfortable with a lot of the things he's said about fostering and adopting. The fact he gets to flip through books with bios and photos of teenage boys makes me cringe. Should I contact someone in the foster/adoption agency he applied with or should I wait and let them suss out his true intentions?

How do I stay friends with Lynn while making it clear I'm not a pedo, not a home-wrecker, and not interested in her brother all these years later?

Not A Pedo

I don't see how the Gary and Lynn dramas represent two sides of a single coin, NAP, so I'm going to take them one at a time.

GARY: Gary sounds like a bit of creep and a tad of mess, NAP, but you don't have any evidence that Gary ever violated a child or that his intentions in fostering/adopting aren't pure. It's possible he wants to foster/adopt a teenage boy because he believes he would make a good male role model; it's also possible he's aware that not only are gay kids "overrepresented in the foster care system [because many are] rejected or mistreated because of their sexual orientation," but also that gay kids are "hard to place" because foster parents can be just as bigoted as biological parents and he's hoping to foster/adopt a gay teenager because the need is so great.

It's also possible you're viewing his actions—unintentionally, no doubt—through the lens of a very damaging myth about gay men, a myth that goes like this: all gay men are sexual predators on the hunt for teenage boys. (That myth, and others, is debunked here.) Now some gay men have abused teenage boys, of course, so while it's a lie to say all gay men are sexual predators, NAP, it's absolutely true that some gay men are. (SPLC: "According to the American Psychological Association, children are not more likely to be molested by LGBT parents or their LGBT friends or acquaintances.")

But is Gary a sexual predator?

His ex-boyfriend would appear to think so, NAP, and his ex could possibly know so. Gary's ex knew him when he lived in Europe and may have known him when he worked as a nanny for that single mother with sons. So, yeah, Gary's ex could know something about him that you don't and that the authorities reviewing Gary's application to foster parent urgently need to know. (But there are only two reasons why would Gary blurt out what his ex said if it was true?)

Instead of contacting the authorities to tell them something you don't know—and you don't know whether Gary is a danger to children—contact the authorities and tell them what you do know: Gary worked as a nanny when he lived in Europe and, based on his ex-boyfriend's reaction to Gary's efforts to foster parent, you have reason to suspect it might not have ended well. Urge the social worker handling Gary's application to contact the family Gary used to work for and possibly Gary's ex-boyfriend. If it's news to the adoption agency that Gary once worked as a nanny, NAP, that alone could wind up disqualifying him, as it would be highly suspicious if Gary withheld that information from the agency.

For the record: I'm an adoptive parent myself—and the adoption agency my husband and I worked with was contacted anonymously during our adoption process. The accusations were baseless, NAP, but our agency did its due diligence, looked into the allegations, and cleared us. If Gary did nothing wrong, NAP, he'll be cleared and your conscience will also be clear.

LYNN: So you've been falsely accused of being a pedophile, huh? Kinda sucks, doesn't it? So maybe you shouldn't be so quick to believe the worst about Gary, maybe? (Still, contact that agency.)

So what the hell is up with Lynn? I have no fucking clue. If Lynn is accusing you of committing a sex crime for sleeping with a 16-year-old boy when you were 21 and living a state where the age of consent is 16, Lynn's got it wrong on two counts. First, the sex was legal and, second, pedophiles are attracted to pre-pubescent children, not teenagers. A person who's attracted to post-pubescent adolescents is a hebephile, not a pedophile. Please make a note of it.

As for why Lynn wants to minimize your contact with her now-middle-aged brother.... only Lynn knows what's up with that. Maybe she still resents you, 30+ years later, for fucking her little brother. Or maybe Paul was traumatized by the experience, confided as much in his sister (and swore her to secrecy), and it's Paul who doesn't want you around. Or maybe Paul's wife feels threatened by you—maybe Paul regularly calls out your name during sex—and Lynn is only running interference on her sister-in-law's behalf.

Point is, unless you confront Lynn, NAP, you can't really know what the hell is going on here—and you're not in any position to confront Lynn at the moment. You moved to the area because Lynn was living there and, like Paul and his wife, you're somewhat dependent on Lynn. (Paul for a place to park his R.V., you for Lynn's social and/or professional contacts.) Confronting Lynn about her obnoxious micro-managing could lead a blow up that deprives you of Lynn's friendship and her contacts. So meet Lynn out for coffee for the time being, NAP, per Lynn's preferences, and only raise the subject of her obnoxious micro-managing/reluctance to have you over to the house after you're better established in your new home.

P.S. At 21 you weren't a kid, you were an adult. Paul was a kid, he was a minor, although he was old enough to legally consent to sex.


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