Whether or not it’s true that money is at the root of the new Venus or, as the saying goes, at the root of all evil, Cothran wouldn’t be the first lesbian to sell out herself and her gay friends for a few bucks and some nefarious version of "truth" cloaked in holy drag. She also wouldn’t be the first black woman to be thought of by her own as a race traitor.
Time will tell how, or if, Cothran’s betrayal of the queer African-American community will pay off for her. But one thing we know for sure is that her actions reinforce what’s become a sad fact of American life: Regardless of how often or how loud a person calls herself a Christian, it doesn’t always mean she’s decent.
The most important lesson to be learned from Cothran’s behavior, I think, is that she â€” and all of the people who now support her â€” are not only allowing a very sad part of black American history to repeat itself, but are also propelling the recurrence. Despite having been victims of church-sanctioned bigotry, together they accept the role of oppressor without question or guilt. Enthusiastically, as if wildly aroused, they favor the condemnation of people who want nothing more than to love one another and to be treated like any other group of law-abiding citizens. And for that, they should be ashamed.
Members of the queer black community have had the floor pulled out from under them by one of its very architects. Their mission now is not to reason why, or to even complain about the reasons, but to rebuild. They’ve lost one of their own, a woman many consider a pioneer in the fight for gay and lesbian rights, but the truth is, Charlene Cothran was only one person with a good cause and a mediocre magazine.
Judging from the few issues of Venus that I read years ago when I lived on the East Coast and, more recently, from her article, Cothran’s good intentions and clout were far greater than her talents as a writer and publisher. The opportunity exists now for someone more noble and skilled to not only step forward and finish what she started, but also to do it better.
I hope that when their pain and anger subsides, those hurt most by Cothran respond to her gross violation of both their dignity and Venus Landin’s memory in a measured, mature and very public way, speaking to the fact that too much time and effort is spent looking for the mysterious ways in which God works, and not in noticing His fondness for the obvious.
The people who sell most loudly the promise of a blissful and everlasting life in Heaven are the same people who thrive on misery here on Earth, and who have made it very clear that they have little interest in getting along with anyone but each other. In contrast, the folks who do dedicate their lives to Christ in the most unselfish ways and without the damning rhetoric are the people who move us most. They act not only in service to God, but also, unlike Charlene Cothran, in service to humanity, obeying not only the word of Christ but also their collective conscience.