poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Lynn Cothren: In the shadow of a civil rights icon
A BTL exclusive interview with the openly-gay special assistant to Coretta Scott King
By Jason Michael

When Lynn Cothren started working at the King Center 22 years ago, it was just a job. He had just relocated to Atlanta from his home in Fayetteville, Tenn. and to support himself while he studied at the Atlanta Art Institute it was either take a part time job at the Center or use his transfer letter to get a guaranteed job at Sears.

Cothren worked with the Center's library and archives for three months before being transferred to the office of the executive vice president of government and international affairs. Three months later he was tapped by the Center's founder, Mrs. Coretta Scott King herself, to work on the files in her office.

But still, it was just a job, and Cothren had plenty of time to volunteer for other causes. The AIDS crisis in full bloom, one of the first efforts he became involved in was the buddy program of AID Atlanta.

"I was a buddy captain and I had five or six buddies that I helped make the transition," Cothren recalled. "I was with them through their transition. Each time it took a toll on me personally, and it also gave me a tremendous amount of growth personally and I wanted to continue to do the work but as many who worked at this time in HIV and AIDS, you get tired. And I wanted to do something that wasn't so draining and so I started working more in the gay and lesbian community on issues. I've never seen myself as just as a gay activist. I try to see myself as a human rights activist that specializes, maybe, in queer issues. But I work on all the progressive issues because I believe very strongly that everything is interconnected. Where you see racism and sexism, you'll see homophobia."


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