Undeterred by his friend's parents' no-boys rule, the teen decided to write to her mom directly.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on November 15, 2020. It has since been updated.
Remember those pre-pandemic days when sleepovers were a big part of the social culture in schools? Late-night conversations with your best pals lazing about your room while listening to the hottest new tracks and munching on snacks, the inevitable spillage of everyone's crushes and deep dark secrets, the impromptu makeover sessions. Unbreakable bonds and lifelong friendships formed in the midst of those sleepover sessions. Mason Brian Barclay wanted to experience all this when his new BFF, Houston Shelton, was having a sleepover at her house. However, Houston's parents had a strict no-opposite-sex rule, which meant that only girls were invited.
How are parents handling sleepovers in the age of gender diversity? (via @AmberLeventry for @parentsmagazine) https://t.co/f8S4iPLQnB pic.twitter.com/H5c2zCioMD— Apple News (@AppleNews) October 12, 2019
Not to be deterred by this minor technicality, Barclay decided to write to Houston's mom directly and make his case as to why she should make an exception for him. "Hey, Mrs. Shelton! This is Mason Brian Barclay, I am one of Houston's new best friends. If she had people over on Friday, would I, a very homosexual male, be able to take part in the sleepover?" he asked her in a text message. "I think the common meaning behind only allowing the same sex to share sleepovers is due to the typical interest in the opposite sex when in this case, I do not like the opposite sex."
Gay teen asks friend's mum permission to attend girl-only sleepover, her response is perfect https://t.co/XxnBObtjVs pic.twitter.com/SEiWLhHJJZ— HuffPost UK Parents (@HPUKParents) September 27, 2017
"Thank you for your time and consideration, have a great night. Amen," he concluded his text, essentially yelling: "I just want to hang out with my best friend all night and I don't think traditional gender roles should stop me from doing so." While sending the text took all his courage, fortunately for him, Mrs. Shelton turned out to be a progressive sweetheart who knew exactly how to put her daughter's best friend at ease. "Hmm. Well, my husband is hot. Should I worry?" she responded in what might be the most amazing one-liners of all time.
I TEXTED HOUSTONS MOM TO ASK IF I CAN STAY THE NIGHT FRIDAY HAHAHAHAHA pic.twitter.com/Ovr74V869W— that is MAY (@maymaybarclay) September 18, 2017
Thrilled by her response, Barclay shared a screenshot of their conversation on Twitter where it quickly went viral. "That took guts, and this mom acknowledged it *fabulously*! I wish you a fun night with your friends! Stay away from Houston's dad, now," commented Twitter user Julie Martineau. Speaking to HuffPost UK, Barclay confirmed he did indeed get to attend the sleepover. "We had a great time, we ordered pizza and watched my favorite show The Simple Life - I'm a huge Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie fan," he said. "Meeting her mum for the first time since the post blew up was really cool and funny."
Gay Teen Asks For Permission To Come To Girls-Only Sleepover, And This Mom Gives Brilliant Responsehttps://t.co/nJYBprGGj7 pic.twitter.com/EFiT8KDMHi— SacLGBTCenter (@SacLGBTCenter) September 29, 2018
On the topic of sleepovers in the age of gender diversity, Kim Cavill, a sex educator and host of a kid-friendly podcast called Six Minute Sex Ed, recommends initiating conversations with open-ended questions about family expectations of behavior and values. "Parents can ask 'What kinds of privacy do you think you're entitled to when you have people sleepover?'" Cavill told Parents. "This is a good way to invite tweens and teens into conversations about rules, which increases the likelihood of their cooperation and decreases their defensiveness."
Hannah Parke, the Camp Director at YWCA Vermont Camp Hochelaga, agrees with Cavill. "Making guidelines or household policies universal helps avoid any feelings that these rules are attached to identity or orientation," she said. "It keeps them centered on safety and the reason why everyone is over for a sleepover: to build friendships and have fun."