Hey Sis, put some clothes on
Dear Straight Talk: I'm a 16-year-old boy with a 17-year-old sister who is gay. We live with our single-parent mom, who can only afford a two-bedroom apartment, so my sister and I share a room. I really think my mom and sister should share a room since they're both females, but our mom won't do it. She figures since my sister is gay, there's no threat of sexual activity.
I change clothes in the bathroom, however, my sister isn't shy about undressing in front of me and is sometimes casual about nudity in our room, which makes me very uncomfortable.
Even though she's gay, she still has an attractive body and I'm ashamed to admit that I sometimes get turned on when I see her nude, sometimes getting an erection. Obviously I can't tell my mom about these feelings. What do I do? — L.C.
Geoff, 25, Redding: In the words of Dan Savage: 'We have reptile brains.' We may refuse to admit it, but everyone (men, women, boys, girls), has biological responses to certain stimuli. No amount of social conditioning changes that. Your mom needs to wake up. If separate rooms are impossible, she should help establish a room divider.
Scot, 23, San Luis Obispo: Erections are largely uncontrollable at your age. They can just happen. It doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong or out of the ordinary. Tell your sister with confidence that you need more discretion since you're both getting older.
Brie, 19, Ashland, Ore.: For awhile I shared a room with my two older brothers, then later with my stepbrother. I always changed in the bathroom so I wouldn't create a potentially awkward situation. Yes, it would be hard to explain to your mom and sister. Tell your sister it makes you uncomfortable and ask her to change in the bathroom. Or create a divider.
Maureen, 18, Redding: Suggest a room divider, that your sister change in the bathroom, or that she warn you before changing so you can leave the room. What about her sharing a closet with your mom and changing in her room?
Ashley, 22, Auburn: I would start sleeping on the couch. Maybe that will show your mom how seriously you don't want to share a room with your sister.
Matt, 16, Villa Park: Partition the room with a sheet or screen. They do this all the time in places like New York where high rents force people into tight quarters. Don't feel like you're the only guy who becomes aroused when there's a naked woman around.
Katelyn, 16, Huntington Beach: Don't blame yourself and don't try to ignore it. Get out of the situation ASAP. Whether your sister is lesbian or not, you're the one who ends up in hot water.
Dear L.C.: You can tell there are many homes with no fathers by the amount of letters we get from angst-ridden brothers like you with mothers and sisters who are evidently clueless about male physiology. Because of this, I don't advise communicating to them that you are sometimes turned on. Not because it's your fault (it's not), or that you've done anything wrong (you haven't), but because I don't trust them to understand the information correctly.
You stand to lose too much due to their ignorance. That said, you may not get your own room, but you must insist on change. Example: "I don't like it. She needs to dress in the bathroom." Why? "Because it bugs me; I'm too old for it. It doesn't matter if she's gay or straight." (Repeat continuously as needed; refuse further explanation.) At the same time, take action: hang a divider, create a "nook" elsewhere in the apartment, set up a tent. They'll get the picture.