UPDATE: This post has been updated with comments from Charlie herself.
Over the weekend, 18 year old Charlie found herself embroiled in a brutal text exchange with her aunt, who apparently told her niece that she wasn't welcome at an upcoming birthday party. The reason, her aunt allegedly explained, was because "gay people have a lot of drama."
"You need to stop being so sensitive," her aunt reasoned, referring to having called her niece a "faggot" in an earlier text. "I tried to understand this bi shit you claim to be but you teenagers make stuff up all the time."
Charlie soon screenshotted and uploaded pictures of the conversation to Twitter, inviting her some 18,000 followers to revel in the hate being lobbed her way and the response she had ready for her aunt.
"Don't worry about it," she wrote back. "I know what you're like after a couple bottles of wine. I can't make it to Indie's birthday, I'm afraid, I have a huge lesbian orgy that day and me and the other faggots have been planning it for months."
In the hours after she shared her texts with the world, dozens of people reached out to Charlie both to express their condolences at her experience, but also to congratulate her on what they saw as an epic dragging.
As is often the case with internet-famous stories like Charlie's, it didn't take long for people to pop up in her mentions expressing doubt at the veracity of her tweets. While their skepticism about whether someone would actually point out a family member's drinking problem and marital issues via text and then share them online were justified, the harassment that came Charlie's way was not.
Many of her doubters, whose tweets have since been deleted, resulted to using homophobic language of their own. Charlie, feeling attacked, opted to make her account private and made the decision to focus her Twitter feed on more pressing issues like The Walking Dead.
"When homophobic abuse is being hurled at you by your own family I don't think manners really matter [to be honest,]" she explained to someone who took issue with the way she responded to her aunt, adding: "The whole point of me venting on Twitter is so that my family wouldn't see and I'd be safe."
When I spoke with Charlie via e-mail this afternoon, she told me that she'd come out as bisexual to her family two years ago and that, for the most part her father's side of the family had been support. Her mother's side, she explained, was trying, but was struggling to wrap their minds around the idea that her bisexuality didn't mean that she would always date men with the frequency that she dated women.
"In the past I've never called out my family or friends for being homophobic because most of the time it's down to lack of education, they don't realise why they can't say the things that they're saying," she told me. "I think a big problem with them is that they don't want to change their views because it's how they've grown up."
When I asked her about her decision to lay into her aunt so scathingly, she reasoned that while taking a more diplomatic tone might have been the politically correct thing to do, it would have been a missed opportunity to call out peoples' tendency to not realize how offensive they can be to their younger, queer family members.
"I think a lot of people have been affected by my text to [my aunt] because it's something that hardly ever happens, LGBT teenagers/children are very passive when it comes to ignorance and abuse from their family because it's their family," she said. "They feel as though they can't argue with them or even defend themselves because we're taught that family is the most important thing and conflicting views shouldn't change anything."
If there's anything Charlie wants people to take away from her exchange, she said, it's that while one's safety is important, young LGBT people should also feel comfortable standing up for themselves.
"You should remind yourself that you are worth more than the ignorant people in your life," Charlie said. "Whether you're out or not you're amazing and there is definitely nothing wrong with you, you should always be you and put yourself first."