Aug Sept 2016
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Help Harlem's Hate Church Become a Space of Support, Love

Help Harlem's Hate Church Become a Space of Support, Love

"Where are the rest of the faggots?"

These were the words Rev. James David Manning screamed at my kids from the Ali Forney Center and the rest of the crowd gathered in protest of his hate speech.

It was two months ago, on a cold November night. A very diverse crowd of over a hundred people had gathered for the "Love Not Hate" protest in front of ATLAH World Missionary Church, which has become notorious due to the sign where Manning has put up a series of incendiary messages inciting hatred and violence against the LGBT community. I was proud that our youth, many of whom are homeless because of the same kind of vitriolic homophobia, were able to see the people of Harlem standing up in rejection of his hatred.

But the evening became painful when Manning came out with a small group of his congregation. He had an amplified microphone, and he screamed at us, using the most vile hate language imaginable, taunting us with homophobic, transphobic, racist, and misogynist epithets. And over and over he screamed "Where are the rest of the faggots?" You can see for yourself in this video [Warning: strong language and offensive hate speech]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rl776zVIvlQ

I hated that our kids had to be subjected to his amplified hatred. So many have told me of being called "faggot" in their homes. So many have described the horror of having your parents turn on you with hatred and shame. I did not want them to relive that trauma.

But now something remarkable has happened. Last week it was announced that Manning hasn't been paying his bills. His church building has been foreclosed and is being put up for public auction on February 24. Immediately the good people of the neighborhood who had organized the protest implored me to try to buy the building and turn a place of hatred into a place of compassion for homeless LGBT youth. Realizing the remarkable opportunity to acquire a residential building only three blocks from our drop-in center, where we provide over 1,000 homeless LGBT youths with food, clothing, medical care, and educational and vocational services, we launched a campaign to raise funds to turn the ATLAH church into a housing program for our kids.

In over the past three days since we launched the #HarlemNoHate campaign, something even more remarkable has happened. Over 1,500 people have donated to the campaign, raising over $110K. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this flood of support. You can see more about the campaign and join us here: http://aliforneycenter.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=531

Manning wanted to know where the rest of the "faggots" were; he just filmed a video saying horrible things about us and warning us that "sodomites" and "fags" will never own his church. Here we are, Rev, Manning. Coming together to protect the youth who have been so terribly victimized by your hatred. Coming together to show them that they are worthy of being honored, of being loved.

Please stand with our young people and show Rev Manning what the LGBT community is capable of. That we are stronger than his hateful signs and his amplified slurs. That we are a community that cares for one another, especially the most vulnerable among us. Please support our campaign.

Carl Siciliano
CARL SICILIANO is the executive director of The Ali Forney Center.

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