My sister-in-law keeps demanding to know if I’m a top or a bottom and it’s getting weird

My sister-in-law keeps demanding to know if I’m a top or a bottom and it’s getting weird

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Hey Jake,

Happily married 30-something gay guy here, dealing with a not-so-happy in-law situation. For the most part, I like my husband’s family. They are accepting and supportive, and we all get along well. Except for my sister-in-law. She’s eight years older than me and honestly kind of weird. 

On more than one occasion now she has asked me whether I’m a top or a bottom. She seems fascinated with knowing, and I’m not sure why. I’ve never answered because…1) I don’t think it’s any of her business and 2) My husband is her younger brother. If I answered, I’d also be sharing private information about his sex life, which I don’t understand why she wants to know about that anyway!?!?

I’ve told her before that I’m not comfortable discussing my bedroom preferences with her, but it’s almost like she’s made it her life’s mission to find out. I’ve also told my husband about it, and he doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal. But if the situation were reversed and I were an older man constantly grilling my significantly younger sister-in-law on her favorite sexual position, I’m pretty sure everyone would agree that’s not okay.

It’s gotten to a point where I try to avoid family gatherings if I know she’s going to be there, simply because I don’t want to deal with her, and/or worry about feeling interrogated over my sex life. I feel at a total loss for what to do about it.


Dear Brother-In-Leery,

In case you still had any doubt, let me start by saying that this behavior by your sister-in-law is both strange and creepy. You have every right to respect your privacy and your space, and to be hesitant about sharing your sexual life with anyone, much less a family member. This is a crude boundary crossing, especially since a clear line has been drawn about what kinds of topics are not up for discussion.

When it comes to people not respecting boundaries, the only thing we can really do is to make sure to keep those boundaries solid and firm, despite the efforts to cross them. If you cave, even a little, and give your nosy sister-in-law even a tiny glimpse into your bedroom shenanigans, it sends the message that boundaries don’t actually mean anything, and can eventually be broken. Hold firm, and simply keep stating that you are not comfortable discussing those things, with the hope that eventually she’ll either stop asking or simply become bored and give up.

As queer people, we don’t have to fit into the heteronormative standards that other people do, so straight people can sometimes assume that it’s okay to treat us differently. We may appear to be more open sexually, and give ourselves more freedom to enjoy that part of ourselves, and discuss sexual matters. Because of that, someone like your sister-in-law may assume that anything and everything is on the table, and there are no limits to what can be discussed. She may just need a little crash-course reminder that even gay people have private lives.

Other times, straight people may try to throw out terms like “top” and “bottom” simply to try and align with us, and show us that they understand gay relationships and queer sexual dynamics. The intention is good–to try and show us they understand and accept us–but in doing so they can unwittingly make us feel uncomfortable, and it goes too far. The result ends up being that they push us away, rather than make us feel closer.

Because your husband’s sister isn’t a random stranger who you’ll likely never see again, you might want to take the approach of discussing your concerns with her, in hopes that the issue could be resolved permanently. You might even politely ask her why she wants to know this information.

Is it coming from an innocent place of trying to connect with you? Or is she rudely trying to entertain herself, thinking it’s harmless? Is there some unconscious homophobia happening within her, and she’s trying to resolve it in some way? Or, maybe it’s actually more about her brother, more so than you, because she feels distant from him?

Helping your hubby’s sister explore the motivation of her questioning, and even getting to the root of it, might allow for a deeper conversation that goes far beyond whether or not her brother-in-law is the catcher or the pitcher.

Once she fully understands her boundaries, and why it’s not okay to ask these questions, I wouldn’t be opposed to a little friendly jab, saying with a wink and a smile as you walk away, “By the way, did you know there’s a thing called versatile?”

Ask Jake is our advice column by Queerty columnist and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Jake Myers. If you have a question for Jake, please email [email protected] for consideration.


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