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Keywords:

  • family;
  • fictive kin;
  • friendship;
  • gender;
  • sexual orientation

This study explores the nature of intentional family relationships between friends of different genders and different sexual orientations. Drawing on in-depth interviews with 46 members of 23 friendship dyads, I first make the case that the friends considered one another family and I specify the criteria they use for making such designations. I then focus on the ways in which gender and sexual orientation influenced relationships between lesbians and straight men and between gay men and straight women. The data provided evidence that the dyad members identified one another as family and served the functions of family for each other. The findings also suggest that various gender issues affect cross-gender, different sexual orientation relationships. Exploring the meaning and functioning of these intentional family ties documents their existence and illuminates their meaning and maintenance.