Charlene Cothran, publisher and editor-in-chief of Venus Magazine, a national publication for African-American gays and lesbians she launched 13 years ago, made a startling announcement: After 29 years as a gay activist, she's become a Christian, renounced her homosexuality, and changed the format of her magazine to spread the gospel to the gay community. Amy Tracy, whose own similar conversion story was told in an earlier Christianity Today article, interviewed Cothran about her new direction.
You were raised in the church. At what point did you walk away from your faith?
I was raised in a family of believers and accepted Jesus into my heart at age 11. I walked away from the Lord at age 15. I became very promiscuous with boys. I went off to college at Georgia Tech and did not practice my faith at all.
The revolving door kind of thing with boys disturbed my soul. I thought if this is what boys were all about, I didn't want anything to do with them. So at the age of 19, I decided that I was only going to date women. They were kind and gentle with me. They wanted to explore my personality. I had never felt this before. My relationships with women felt safe and wonderful.
When did you first feel the winds of change stirring in your heart?
I always knew that homosexuality was wrong. The seed of truth was planted long ago. But the sin in my life squashed it. I'd go to church if it was Christmas, but I never allowed myself to get to the point where I felt conviction. I hardened my heart over and over against the Word.
As you get older, life begins to unfold in a real way. Loved ones die, and you end up dealing with your own mortality. I first felt something change during Black Gay Pride in Chicago in 2001. It was a beautiful day, and ...