Why Homophobic Harlem Church Should Become LGBT Youth Shelter

  • The service having id "propeller" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
  • The service having id "buzz" is missing, reactivate its module or save again the list of services.
Why Homophobic Harlem Church Should Become LGBT Youth Shelter

Madden, a Professor of Regional Science, Sociology, Urban Studies, and Real Estate at Penn, to discuss her new book “Gayborhoods: Economic Development and the Concentration of Same-Sex Couples in Neighborhoods Within Large American Cities.” Madden revealed that gay white men on the Northeast and West coasts had significantly greater income to created gayborhoods that are “close to or have easy access to the downtown and had older housing."

But white gay men are not the culprits gentrifying Harlem, although the number of whites in Harlem in the last decade has nearly doubled from 9.9 percent to 16.6 percent. Harlem is unquestionably a community in transition—and not only with its new residents.

In June 2010, Harlem saw its first Pride. But Harlem still remains as both a complicated open and closeted queer social hot spot. Harlem’s transgender community wrestles more than any of us LGBQs with Harlem’s homophobia. With a new black and visible LGBTQ face emerging in Harlem in the last decade so too is a white one.

When rents became prohibitive, especially in Greenwich Village—NYC’s gay mecca—many Manhattan LGBTQs took either a bridge over to Brooklyn or a train up to Harlem. These new LGBTQ residents in predominately poor communities and communities of color have brought unimaginable improved services to the area the city has long forgotten, like police protection, Starbucks, Wholefoods, and boutique shops, to name a few. But their presence has also created great resentment by those who were  forced to relocate from these communities, but also those left to see the uncomfortable changes.

Many life-long residents wonder what will become of Manning’s imposing edifice that’s been in the community since 1957 as one of the revered Harlem churches in its day. Some of Harlem’s land grab, however, can render not only good outcomes but also redemptive ones. The last thing Manning would ever fathom for the church space is it becoming NYC’s, largest homeless shelter and resource center for LGBTQ African American youth. And the Ali Forney Center (AFC) has launched a fundraising drive to grab the space. Ali Forney, who the center is named after, was African American who identified as both gay and transgender and was murdered in December 1997.

Needless to say, Rev. Manning will be outraged should the Ali Forney Center win its bid. But I’m reminded of the prayer Forney recited—and no black pastor heard—before his death at his favorite event of the year: Talent Night at Safe Space, a program for homeless youth in NYC. “I believe that one day, the Lord will come back to get me. Hallelujah! All my trials and tribulations, they will all be over. I won’t have to worry about crying and suffering no more, because my God, hallelujah is coming back for me.”

Many black churches, especially in Harlem like Manning’s, continue to both unapologetically and unabashedly closed its doors to its LGBTQ population. And despite the fact these kids looked to the church for help these youth have neither a chance nor a prayer for assistance. The Ali Forney Center would be their answer.