Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Charlene Cothran: A Lesbian's Deliverance

A Lesbian's Deliverance

By Charlene Israel
CBN News
June 23, 2007 - After 29 years as a gay activist, former lesbian magazine publisher Charlene Cothran stunned the homosexual community when she announced she had become a Christian.

She has renounced her homosexuality, and changed the format of her magazine to spread the Gospel to the gay community.

As a gay rights activist, Cothran was never afraid to fight for what she believed in. For 30 years, she was as vocal and in your face as they come. 

Watch Charlene Israel's report and Pat Robertson's comments by clicking on the play button to the right.

She organized and marched with other lesbians in gay rights parades. And as editor-in-chief of Venus magazine , a national gay and lesbian publication, she wasn't about to change -- until something happened at a gay pride celebration that she never expected.

"In 2003, I was in Chicago at a gay pride event, in the middle of this beautiful park," Cothran recalled. "I took a panoramic view, and as far as I could see there were men with men and women with women, all just partying and having a good time. But a shame fell on me, I felt so out of place. I knew something in my spirit spoke that, 'this is that road that leads to destruction, and you're on it.'"

It took several years to come to terms with this vision, and during that time Cothran continued to publish her gay and lesbian magazine. But she couldn't escape the message she'd heard that day in 2003.

She said, "I kept myself busy with marches and activism and public appearances. But in the still of the night when everything is over, there was still that little voice, "You're not right with God."

Cothran says she longed for peace, but even in the midst of a long-term relationship, she felt intense loneliness. She'd grown up in a Christian home, and had come into the lesbian lifestyle at 19, after several bad relationships with boys.

"I didn't want anything to do with men anymore," she said. "I was away at college and that was a whole new world, and in that world there were many, many women who were attracted to me, and, of course, I was attracted to them. And these women were nurturing, wanted to get to know me intellectually -- they were organizers whom I found a lot of comfort in. It felt good, it felt right."

But it didn't feel right anymore. Then in June 2006, local Pastor Vanessia Livingston of Miracle Deliverance Church called Cothran, regarding an article in one her publications. She didn't know anything about Cothran's life and proceeded to talk to her about God.

Livingston asked Cothran, "What are you going to do about your life?" Then she told her, "'You need to get your life together.' Cothran said, 'I'm in the life.' I said, 'Yes, I know, that's why I'm talking to you, but you don't have to stay in the life. You can be delivered today, right now, right where you are.'"

They talked for awhile and Cothran remembers her words: "I can tell that you want to come back to God, but you feel unworthy, you feel that God can't use you because you've been marching and publishing and you've been such a proud lesbian all these years, but that's not true. He's waiting."

That day changed everything for Charlene Cothran, as she finally asked Jesus Christ to come into her heart and forgive her.

It was a personal transformation that she immediately wanted to share with her gay and lesbian followers. She wrote a front page article in her magazine called, "Redeemed! Ten Ways to Get Out of the Gay Life, if You Want Out."

"When the Lord saved me, I knew everything would change," she said. "All of the ads, the editorials, the mission of the magazine had changed. We're going to be calling people out of homosexuality."

Most of the response from the gay and lesbian community has been fierce and negative. But she says she knows that many of them are just as conflicted as she was.

Cothran said, "In order to fill up this empty space, they pretend to put on this wonderful face, 'how gay and happy I am,' when in fact -- there's a lot of loneliness in the gay community that's not talked about, and it's real."

But there has been positive feedback as well. Cothran says she gets lots of e-mails from people who say they struggle with homosexuality and want out.

CBN News asked Cothran, "I know people probably ask you, do you still have feelings for women, and are you dating a man?"

Cothran replied, "I'm living a celibate life. I'm so focused on the spirit right now, that I have no urges for anyone -- man or woman."

With a new outlook about herself and life, Cothran is still on the frontlines of the gay rights battle, only now she sees it as a spiritual fight to lead others to the freedom she's found.

"Our mission now," she said, "is to educate and to turn people away from the homosexual lifestyle simply by presenting the truth. We simply want people to question what they've learned through the pages of Venus magazine over the past 13 years."

Prior to Cothran's conversion, Venus circulated about 35,000 copies per issue which ran four times a year. But after the issue featuring her testimony, the gay political machine pressured advertisers to drop the magazine. And gay pride events and college campuses no longer subscribe.

But in her own words, Cothran has no regrets about her change.

She said, "There is a joy and a peace that you can't find in a club, I don't care how good the music is. You can't find it in the middle of a gay pride parade, I don't care if you have the biggest, prettiest float. I have a joy and a peace that I wouldn't trade for anything."



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