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03/09/2007

bog (noun): Soft, unsupported ground that's unable to hold much weight

by Jeremy Hooper

 Good As You Images F2007322568It's Friday, which means it's once again time for Kelly Boggs' weekly, usually gay-focused, Baptist News column. The topic this week: Charlene E. Cothran, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the gay focused Venus magazine who recently announced that thanks to Jesus, she is no longer a lesbian and that Venus will no longer be a pro-gay publication. The attacks this week: Just as baseless as useless.

Boggs sets up his piece by saying:

Imagine a prominent conservative Christian publicly announcing that he has renounced heterosexuality and will henceforth and forever be homosexual. Add to the scenario the leader declaring he is dedicated to promoting the glory of gayness and encouraging others to become homosexual. Now try to imagine the mainstream media ignoring such an announcement.

Try as I might, I cannot, for the life of me, imagine the mainstream press failing to report such news. Instead, there would be a media firestorm. The news would spread fast and furious from sea to shining sea -- even if the leader was prominent only on a regional or state level.

Well, first off -- this sort of scenario never happens. That is because whenever a conservative Christian leader is found to be dabbling in the gay sex, they paint it as a "moral failing" that pulled them away from the comfortable confines of heterosexuality for a brief period of time. Whether it's because they truly believe the gay-unfriendly views they espouse or because they simply want to save public face, the idea that maybe they truly are gay and that their heterosexuality is the forced contrivance in their lives is an idea that is never posited as a possibility.

Secondly, the mainstream media would never ignore such a situation because the mainstream media doe not take kindly to hypocrisy. If a prominent leader who routinely speaks out against homosexuality is found to be having extra-marital gay sex with a paid male escort, then that it certainly newsworthy. Also, if/when a prominent anti-gay leader who has been found to have been having gay relations follows that revelation with acknowledgment and self-acceptance of his homosexuality/bisexuality, then that will also be a big story. We, however, aren't holding our breath for that to happen.

Mr. Boggs continues:

If the mainstream media types would be quick to pounce on the news of a Christian leader coming out of the closet, and I believe they would, do you think they would be as eager to cover a prominent homosexual activist who embraced Christianity and renounced his or her homosexuality?

You need not ponder the aforementioned question very long. A prominent homosexual activist has become a Christian. She has also become an evangelist pointing homosexuals to a way out of their aberrant lifestyles. And, thus far, the mainstream media has completely ignored the story.

So-called "ex-gays" (and "ex-ex-gays") have received loads upon loads of press in recent months and years. There has been no media blackout on the subject. But with all due respect to Ms. Cothran and Venus magazine --neither are exactly the most prominent names. It's not like the head of HRC or openly gay bishop Gene Robinson deciding that they are no longer gay, but rather a publisher of a smallish publication deciding she's "ex-gay" (not heterosexual, mind you). Now that being said, if Ms. Cothran wants to push her story and get some bookings, we'd imagine she'd totally be able to find some outlets willing to listen.

One also must remember -- and this should not be taken lightly -- that no credible body of science or research attests to the idea that gays can "change." And whereas there are loads of people who live in the gay closet (and trust us, at least three of them write us every week), there are no gay people who are secretly living in the heterosexual closet. So when one comes out as gay, they are finally revealing something that they've been struggling with internally. When one comes out as "ex-gay," they are merely saying that they have given into the unsupported, unscientific religious viewpoints that tell them that being gay is wrong. It is hard for the media to view both situations in the same light, as it is hard for ANY reasoned person to view both situations in the same light!

Then after detailing Cothran's revelation that she's an ex-gay, Boggs goes on to say:

Cothran indicated that her new message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and her “new mission is to encourage, educate and assist those in the life [homosexuality] who want change but can’t find a way out.”

The latest edition of the magazine includes testimonies from others who have left homosexuality. The publication even has a new mission statement. It reads, in part, “The new mission of Venus Magazine is to encourage, educate and assist those who desire to leave a life of homosexuality. Our ultimate mission is to win souls for Christ, and to do so by showing love to all God’s people. We believe that homosexuality is outside of the will of God.”

A prominent homosexual activist not only embraces Christianity, but also seeks to evangelize the homosexual community, and not a single mainstream news organization reports it. Many homosexual outlets also have ignored it. What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing, especially if your publication wants to pander to homosexuals by not printing anything that might possibly be damaging to their cause.

And again -- you're not going to find the AP or Brian Williams jumping to do a story on one, under-the-radar woman who claims to have "changed" her sexual desires because of her religion! The "ex-gay" movement itself is a story, and they have their stable of speakers who they present to the media. While Ms. Cothran is very likely to become one of the movement's new faces, as its proponents will surely find the fact that she was so pro-gay an appealing angle to work, Ms. Cothran is not yet, by herself, prominent enough to merit a Times story. She's in no way Ted Haggard! She was never politically opposing the rights of a sect of people and she was never preaching AGAINST anyone. She was seeking acceptance. Now if Wayne Besen, who goes after the "ex-gay" movement with ferocity, were to become an "ex-gay" -- that would be a story. Ms.Cothran's own personal story, as far as the mainstream media is concerned, is just not a high priority.

We don't oppose the "ex-gay" individuals one bit, but rather we feel sorry for them. As mentioned, we're pretty sure that we'll be seeing and hearing more from Ms. Cothran as she joins with the usual Fryrears and Chambers and Bennetts (oh my) that we've come to know and love from the "former homosexual" team. If/when she does start making comments in "pro-family" press outlets to try and discredit our lives, we will respond (as we always do). But speaking only for ourselves: We aren't currently ignoring Ms. Cothran's situation because we think it "might possibly be damaging to our cause." We are ignoring it because we, at this point, find it just sad.

FIRST-PERSON: Lesbian activist finds freedom in Christ [BP News]

R.I.P (1995-2006):

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**UPDATE: While we've had little to say on Cothran's situation, the gay community as a whole has been far from silent: NY Blade, Windy City Times, SoVo, Ex-gay Watch, Daily Dose of Queer, In Newsweekly, Gay Alliance of Genessee Valley, Queerty
Jasmyne Cannick

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