A dangerous change of heart underscores community problems
Venus Magazine, a publication that for 13 years targeted the Black gay and lesbian community, is now a voice for the ex-gay movement.
Its publisher, Charlene Cothran, recently announced that she has been “redeemed”; is no longer a lesbian; and is changing the mission and direction of the magazine. On the Web site she writes, “As the publisher of a 13-year-old periodical [ that ] 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.
This is not a joke. It is for real and it is sad. From reading the article, I can tell that Ms. Cothran isn't one of the usual "ex-gay for pay" who are employed by the anti-gay industry. She genuinely believes that God spoke to her heart and made her change her orientation and her magazine's focus.
I sincerely hope that anyone reading this won't be forming any thoughts to send Ms. Cothran negative emails. It is the last thing she needs.
Her changing the direction of her magazine covers so many issues our community tends to ignore.
It has been my experience that so many African-Americans lgbts have a problem reconciling our cultural ideas of faith and God to our orientation. We view our orientation as lgbts as separate to our identities as African-Americans.
And may be this is because of the second issue the article brings up.
If this story was about a predominantly white gay magazine, it would get a lot of attention. I strongly suspect that since this is an predominantly African-American magazine, it will not get the attention it deserves.
This is indicative of how the mainstream gay community tends to ignore lgbts of color. In the recent conversations we have all had about the "down low" no one has ever said that African-American gays and lesbians feel that we have to pick which community we will invest ourselves in. Both communities tell us that we must sacrifice a part of ourselves. The African-American community tells us to be closeted, while the gay community tells us to be silent, remain in the background, and be constantly reminded about how we don't "fit" someone's idea of a perfect gay, be it due to income, racial heritage, or social background.
And take it from me; an African-American in the closet tends to get more support from the Black community than an out African-American gets from the gay community.
The gay community needs to address the idea that our identities as lgbts is multi-faceted and sometimes dependent on sociological and cultural factors. The attempt to homogenize the gay and lesbian community into one single entity dependent on a single fight for equality (i.e. gay marriage) or a single gathering (i.e. gay pride rallies), or single images (i.e. middle class white gays) harms us more than anything the anti-gay industry can do.
The ironic thing about this situation is that I read in another article that some gays interrupted a Senate hearing in Indiana when a bill banning same-sex marriage made it out of committee. Apparently they began to sing "We Shall Overcome."
They should have changed the lyrics to "Some of Us Shall Overcome."