As the publisher of a 13 year old periodical which targets Black gays and lesbians, I have had the opportunity to publicly address thousands, influencing closeted people to "come out" and stand up for them selves, which is particularly difficult in the African-American community. But now, I must come out of the closet again. 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.
— Venus magazine publisher Charlene E. Cothran, in her February 2007 cover story titled "Redeemed! 10 Ways to Get Out of the Gay Life, If You Want Out"
If you want to leave "the life" then by all means do it. Just don’t bash other people "on your way out."
— A comment in response to Cothran’s story, posted by a reader on the Venus blog
On a Tuesday morning last June in the parking lot of a mall, after speaking to a preacher, Venus magazine publisher and African-American gay activist Charlene E. Cothran decided to renounce her lesbianism and hand her life over to the Lord. Nothing wrong with that; ex-lesbians happen, and usually Jesus plays a role in the transformation.
But after reading the story of Cothran’s conversion — published in Venus in the article "Redeemed! 10 Ways to Get Out of the Gay Life, If You Want Out" — I’m having a very hard time swallowing her claim that the Lord Jesus, and not some other lord — the Lord of the Dance, perhaps — is behind her change of heart, because the Jesus I’m familiar with is a stand-up guy, not a sidestepping creep.
In her article, Cothran proudly shared the new anti-gay mission of her magazine, and in doing so not only betrayed 38,000 unsuspecting queer readers, but also desecrated the memory of her "good friend" and the magazine’s namesake, Venus Landin, a fellow lesbian advocate who was murdered by an ex-lover in 1993.
Why Cothran didn’t have enough respect for her subscribers to "come out" for Jesus without condemning them in the process, and why she didn’t have the journalistic integrity to sell her magazine to someone in the queer African-American community that would continue its original mission, are questions that beg for answers that don’t reek of self-loathing. But her decision to continue to use the name of a lesbian activist as the vehicle by which she now spreads her anti-gay convictions is beyond reasoning — it’s an unconscionable choice that illustrates a level of depravity normally reserved for sociopaths in soap operas.
Cothran’s actions reveal either a complete repugnance for a woman she claims to have once loved and admired, or such a bloated sense of self-righteousness that she believes Venus Landin would actually approve of having her name attached to a publication that reinforces homophobia in the black community, as well as in the world at large.
To say that this story is simply sad and unfortunate would be a gross understatement. What probably began as one woman’s search for inner peace through Christ turned into a witch-hunt wherein one hunted was already slain, and the rest were her sitting pet ducks. The absence in the article of any admission (or even of any hint) of ethical struggle over her decision, coupled with her eagerness to damn the people she so arrogantly still calls "brothers and sisters," reveals that Cothran’s alliance with her new so-called Christian friends has corrupted her morals to a despicable degree.
Pathetic, yes, but not surprising.