Last week, in an exclusive interview with The Hollywood Gossip, a former employee of the Duggar family confirmed what some fans had long suspected about Jana Duggar’s personal life.
The source told us that Jana is in love with Laura DeMasie, her longtime best friend, and was heartbroken by last year’s news that Laura would be moving to Atlanta to pursue a career opportunity.
The 30-year-old’s single status has long been the topic of wide speculation, but we’ve never heard it put quite like this.
“Jana, I feel sorry for her," the insider lamented.
"She’s gay, and she just doesn’t know she’s gonna admit that she’s gay, and she’s in love with her best friend.”
Not mincing words. Our source never does.
The source went on to state, for the record, that Jana and Laura likely would not have had the opportunity to engage in any sexual conduct with one another, even if that was their intention.
He revealed that the pair is closely "chaperoned" when they’re together, and their relationship is so tightly controlled that Jim Bob joined the friends on a vacation to Las Vegas in February.
“She has fended off so many suitors," the insider told us.
"Even when they went to Las Vegas, Jim Bob went. Just the three of them. I guess he was like a chaperone."
The Duggar courtship rules, of course, are no joke.
All forms of premarital sex are barred and non-married couples must employ the services of a chaperone at all times.
But there are literally no circumstances under which Jana and Laura’s relationship would be approved by Jim Bob.
The family takes a harsh and archaic view of gay relationships, believing that homosexuality is a mortal sin.
“Eventually what’s gonna have to happen, is that she’s gonna have to bite the bullet and come out, or become celibate," the source told THG.
“Her family is totally anti-gay, of course, so I really don’t how that’s gonna be."
It’s important for us to note, again, that our source’s conjecture about Jana Duggar’s sexuality is merely that.
There’s no evidence that the 30-year-old has engaged in sexual activity with Laura or any other woman.
In fact, given the stringent Duggar guidelines governing relationships and sex, it seems highly unlikely.
But the fact remains that Jana and Laura are so close that for a time, DeMasie had her own room in the Duggar home.
So who is Laura, and what exactly do we know about her relationship with Jana through the years?
A number of Reddit threads have been devoted to this very question, as fans have been baffled by Laura’s constant presence at family events such as weddings, birthdays — and even births.
Yes, as a 2018 Counting On special revealed, Laura was right there by Jana’s side when Jinger Duggar gave birth to daughter Felicity.
One year later, Joy-Anna Duggar gave birth to her first child, and once again, Laura was right there in the hospital and was one of the first to offer her congratulations.
Laura works part-time as a party planner, so her presence at all Duggar weddings and birthdays makes sense, but births?!
Needless to say, Jana’s constant companion is far more than just a close family friend.
For several years, Laura assisted Jana with the Duggars’ homeschooling (she has a lot of younger siblings), which is the ostensible reason that she was given a bedroom in their compound.
For much of that time, Laura, now 34, also worked for Embassy Media, a division of the Institute for Basic Life Principles, which serves as a core foundation of the Duggars’ belief system.
With her godly background and lofty connections, it’s not hard to see why Laura would have been drawn to the famous family – and been permitted to form such a close bond with Jana.
But some fans believe the two women became too close for Jim Bob’s comfort.
And in 2019, Laura moved to Atlanta to pursue her career in interior design.
Many believe Laura’s job with the Georgia-based firm Accent Decor, Inc. was arranged by none other than Jim Bob in order to put some distance between his daughter and her alleged paramour.
Even if there’s nothing going on between Jana and Laura, the rumors alone may have made Jim Bob uncomfortable.
"Is Jana dating her friend Lauren?" a fan tweeted to Derick Dillard in 2018.
"There are tons of rumors flying. Set the record straight."
"Uh no," Derick promptly replied, drawing even more speculation.
"Derick you should have put just ‘no.’ The ‘uh’ implies you don’t know lol, so this is not confirmation for the masses," another fan chimed in.
Dillard chose not to comment on the situation further.
Laura, however, stepped in to clarify the matter.
"How about this then: No," she tweeted, but the rumor persisted nonetheless.
In April 2019, an Instagram follower raised the question to Jana directly.
“Are you and Laura dating??” “Anyone else think the same thing?”
"No. And I would like to stop that rumor," she replied.
“I have no interest in girls that way whatsoever," Jana said, speaking on the matter openly for the first time.
“I have ‘courted’ or ‘dated’ a few guys, but so far nothing has gone into a serious relationship."
"Just continuing to wait and pray for the right guy to come along.”
If there’s any romantic component to Jana and Laura’s relationship, that’s a secret that both women will likely take to the grave.
It also remains possible, even probable, that she’s telling the truth, or that there’s a gray area we may never truly understand.
As single 30-somethings who have grown up in a world where unmarried women in their late 20s are considered old maids, Laura and Jana may simply find comfort in an unusually close friendship.
Last year, a Reddit user summed up the situation thusly:
"Considering Jana lives with all the young girls and can’t go out with her sisters because she’s the odd wheel out, I say good for her for having a companion to hang out with," she wrote.
"The snark in me wishes they were secretly lesbians (go Jana go!) but that would be a terrible thing in that family."
The commenter continues:
"I know Jana has the same awful fundie beliefs as her family but I still cheer for her to find the things that make her happy."
Whatever the nature of Jana and Laura’s relationship, we hope it brings both women happiness – and perhaps in time, these two will find some modicum of acceptance within their community.