I received an email the other day, after posting “When Christians Give Christians a Bad Name“, from a 16 year old girl. I asked permission to share her story, and I also promised I'd take out any identifying information, so this is her email – paraphrased.
The reason I'm posting it is because, while I gave her advice, I don't think it was very concrete or helpful, to be honest.
I am writing you an email to see if you have any advice. I'm 16. I'm very successful in school (she then lists many of her accomplishments, which blew me away). Obviously, I have tons of parental support that helps me to accomplish these things; most of it comes from my mother. While she is very professionally supportive of me, she is not personally supportive. While I could detail the ridiculous things she's said to demonstrate her thinly veiled racism, the biggest issue is her homophobia. I've been dating the same girl for a little more than a year now. She caught wind of the fact that we were dating last year. I wouldn't call the event a ‘coming-out' for a number of reasons. This was not a conversation, but an interrogation in which she asked me questions, ignored my answers, and preached to me about the evils of choosing to be gay. She told me I was going to hell. That was certainly not the most hurtful thing she said; I got treated to a lecture on how being gay would lead to me never getting a good job, permanent unhappiness, and scorn from all who love me. With that, she demanded I break up with my girlfriend immediately. Of course, this didn't happen (dating bans on teenagers don't seem to be terribly effective), and I continued to be just as closeted to her as ever.
After in effect promising to be straight in order to maintain support, the conversation has never been brought back to the surface. I certainly wouldn't feel safe coming out while still living at home, which leads to my question. I'd always planned on coming out when I left high school (and home), but recently my parents have decided to fund my entire undergrad education. While this is great for me from a financial standpoint, it alters my coming out plans. It seems necessary to give her more than a year to come around to accepting me as her gay daughter, and I certainly want her to have come around by the time I'd be about the age to get married, which seems to be the mid 20s. So, coming out during grad school seems to be pushing it.
She ended her email with a question I'd like you to help me answer for her.
What do you think I should do? When should I come out to her, and how long should I expect her to take to accept me?
Remember, this girl is only 16 years old. It's not like she can really stand up to her mother at this point because it would cause great turmoil in her life. Hell, it sounds like she'd send her to one of those “pray away the gay” camps if she found out she was “still gay”. So, help me help her, please? :)