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Harlem Hate Church Sets the Stage For Gay Romantic Indie Film

Wednesday Sep 14, 2016

To most, the sign outside of notorious Harlem hate church that has messages like "Obama has released the homo demons" and "Jesus would stone homos," would be the last place you'd want to have a romantic encounter. And yet, it is that very spot that sets the stage for Jeff Lieberman's film "My Harlem," a gay interracial love story that is currently seeking backers through crowdfunding.

The description of the film on the project's Indiegogo page reads:

"My Harlem' is a feature-length narrative film set in New York's beautiful and historic Harlem neighborhood, where gentrification has been a hotly-debated topic. The discussion has been further inflamed by one Harlem church whose billboard often contains racist and homophobic messages. Our response is to combat hatred with love. We don't have billboards, but we have the power to tell stories and make films, and we hope you will join us with this positive and uplifting message of love."

"This particular church seems to take special enjoyment in targeting the LGBTIQ community, suggesting that 'homos' be stoned, thrown off buildings, or exacerbating tired stereotypes of gay men as sexual deviants out to 'steal' the neighborhood," wrote Lieberman on the crowdfunding site. " But their hate doesn't just apply to gays and lesbians. "They have targeted Black people, women, President Obama, and many others. There is regular use of the "N-word" and violations of the church prohibition on making political endorsements. You won't be surprised to know that the sign proclaimed glowing support for a President Trump."

Lieberman's assessment of Atlah Worldwide Church's founder Rev. James David Manning's relationship with Trump is more than partially true. The notorious "Harlem Hate Pastor" was a staunch supporter of Trump's candidacy but blasted the billionaire's bid for the White House after he condemned the mass shooting at the gay Orlando nightclub Pulse in June.

"The Bible condemns Mr. Trump's acceptance of sodomy, and I withdraw my support," Manning said when he withdrew his support for Trump. "Sodomy is more dangerous than Jihadists."

According to DNAInfo, previously Manning had referred to Trump as "humble, patient, generous but a strong leader." In recent days, he has shown signs of turning around and supporting the GOP candidate again.

"It is also a gay love story," Lieberman told NBC News of "My Harlem." "It's about two young men who meet on the street and are intrigued with each other but also misunderstand one another. They have very different cultural backgrounds but are very similar in a lot of ways. The story follows them as they get to know one another better and play with the idea that they are different, similar; that they have flirtation, sexual attraction, and chemistry yet, they are also scared of the possibility of dealing with each other's communities."

And yet, Lieberman intends for the film to encompass all walks of life in his film.

"As a Harlem-based filmmaker, I wanted to write a tribute to my neighborhood to showcase all the beautiful and historic aspects of this vibrant corner of New York City," wrote Lieberman on the crowdfunding site.  "I also wanted to pay tribute to the people who fill its brownstones, restaurants, parks and jazz clubs, and I wanted to address the thorny issue of gentrification and the complications that arise as the neighborhood continues to shift."


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