A prominent black homosexual activist has come out of the closet, except this time as an ex-lesbian.
Charlene E. Cothran, 48, runs a quarterly magazine named after her homosexual friend, Venus, who was shot dead by her ex-lover. For 13 years, the periodical has targeted black gays and lesbians and grew to a circulation of over 38,000 across the nation.
For 29 years, she has encouraged the homosexual community to stand up for themselves and moved to the forefront in gay pride movements and lobbying efforts for "equal treatment" of homosexual persons.
But today, she has a different message for her audience and supporters.
"...I must come out of the closet again," stated Cothran. "I have recently experienced the power of change that came over me once I completely surrendered to the teachings of Jesus Christ. As a believer of the word of God, I fully accept and have always known that same-sex relationships are not what God intended for us."
The shocking announcement was made on the cover story of her latest Venus issue in February entitled "Redeemed! 10 Ways to Get Out of the Gay Life If You Want Out."
"I don't expect that this message will be widely received, quite the contrary," she said in her article. "But, I do know that there is someone, possibly reading this very article, who is tired and unhappy living this way."
Having grown up in a Christian home, Cothran was one of those "tired" persons. She felt disconnected from God living as a lesbian and knowing what Scripture says. So she avoided church altogether.
"When you know the truth, you don't want to see it," she told The Christian Post. "I didn't go to church, I didn't read the Bible."
Cothran would only go to service for Easter or other major religious holidays.
At that time, "gay" churches were springing up. She attended a few services but she never stayed. Although a warm and inviting experience, Cothran felt it was like "'playing' church."
"Truth is, I could not bring myself to join a 'gay' church," she said in a blog. "I just could not get it passed any of my senses that God and gay were just fine together. I just never believed it."
Cothran's transformation came in June 2006. The Lord gave her what she called "an ultimatum" - to make a choice today who she will serve.
Venus magazine reaches the same audience today - gay and lesbians who are predominantly African American - but Cothran is writing more as an evangelist now. The last two issues ran without the support of all her regular corporate ads that were geared toward gay lifestyle. She has also lost some of her dedicated subscribers, some of whom felt disappointment and sadness while others felt betrayed, considering the role model Cothran was to the gay community.
Still, she hasn't lost all of them. One reason, she says, is because she still has credibility with them and another, because they are just curious about how such a prominent homosexual activist changed.
"When you're holding this magazine up, you're holding up a mirror," Cothran explained about the new issues of Venus. "A lot of times, you don't like what you see," she said, alluding to homosexual persons who were largely raised in a Christian home.
In the African American community, homosexuality is a taboo, says Cothran, and blacks are much more homophobic than any other ethnic group, she believes.
Her piece of advice is to treat everyone with love. Her advice to the black churches - don't leave out truth.
"We have to mix truth and grace," she said. "Everyone should be invited to come into the temple of God just as they are ... but you can't say 'under grace, it doesn't matter if you're gay.'"
"That's only grace without any truth," she continued.
"The Lord instructed us to sin no more."
Churches should say, "We want to help you walk out [of homosexuality] with you" and not "continue to come and be gay," Cothran noted.
"But not enough people are saying 'come.'"
Cothran has a flood of new support now in addition to her past supporters, including parents, other ex-homosexuals and churches.
She has no ad clients for her next magazine issue and some of her past friends won't take her call anymore. But she's happy.
"I'm celibate," she now calls herself. "And I'm very satisfied with just me and God."
On the web: www.venusmagazine.org