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Why Homophobic Harlem Church Should Become LGBT Youth Shelter

Why Homophobic Harlem Church Should Become LGBT Youth Shelter

Gentrification of neighborhoods always disrupts existing communities within them. In the past several years, Harlem’s empty lots and burned-out buildings have sprung up luxury condos, upscale restaurants, boutique shops, hotels, B&Bs, and unimaginable improved services in an area the city had long forgotten.

And the resentment of this shift has targeted both Harlem's recent and life-long LGBTQ communities. "Look out black woman. A white homo may take your man” a towering sign hung for months outside of ATLAH World Missionary Church on West 123rd and Lenox.

The pastor of ATLAH, Rev. James David Manning opposes the gentrification going on in Harlem and has implored its residents and his congregants to boycott the new luxury condos, upscale restaurants, boutique shops, and hotels. According to Rev. Manning the boycott would maim the "white homo" where it hurts him the most—his pockets. And Manning expounded on the church's online video.

"He's usually got money—a white homo usually has an American Express card. He usually has an opportunity at the theater—homos love the theater. They love to go out to dinners, parties, they love that kind of a thing... " Next month Manning’s church is scheduled for a public foreclosure auction due to over $1 million dollars in debt.

The tragedy here is not in seeing Manning leave but rather the many life-long residents of Harlem and congregants of Manning’s church who are now forced to, resulting in the permanent dislocation not only of a people but also of the inimitable culture, lifestyle and worship space they created.The query raised by many Harlem residents is why is their neighborhood that has been long forgotten and completely disinvested from both public and private real estate interest suddenly a hot land grab?

The prevailing thought today in the area of urban development and city planning is that if you want to revitalize a decaying city and get rid of its urban plight you create gayborhoods. And new studies reveals that these enclaves have overall positive economic and cultural effects.“Gays have often been at the forefront of gentrification in New York City and elsewhere in the nation, said Charles Kaiser, author of "The Gay Metropolis, a History of Gay Life in New York" who's quoted in “Harlem Journal: Gay White Pioneers, on New Ground.”

In February 2014 HuffPo Live did a show “Why We Still Need Gayborhoods.” On the show was Janice