Harlem's Only Black LGBT Church Searches for a Home

Rivers of Living Water has become a place of refuge for African-American LGBT Christians, but it's a church without a home.

The Harlem church declares itself "radically inclusive and open and affirming" of the LGBT community, and the majority of its congregation, along with its entire ministry, is LGBT. And unlike the few other Harlem churches that open their doors to gay members, Rivers of Living Water performs same-sex marriage ceremonies.

But embracing the LGBT community has come with a cost: Senior pastor Vanessa Brown says that because black religious organizations largely still condemn homosexuality, she has had trouble finding a proper space for her congregation to worship.

"I find myself, when trying to do business deals around space with other churches, that I don't tell them what kind of church this is — for fear that they are going to pull back of the deal," Brown says, adding that she sometimes sends people on her behalf to search for space.

As of today, Rivers of Living Water is holding its services in the basement of the United Methodist Church (263 West 86th Street) on the Upper West Side.

Pastor Brown says she would like to move back to Harlem, but looking for a space there has become a long and arduous process.

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Irish Queers Call NYC's St. Patrick's Day Parade Diversity Attempt a 'Publicity Stunt'

Zach Roberts for the Village Voice
Out@NBCUniversal members at the St. Patrick's Day Parade
As New York City held its 254th St. Patrick's Day Parade Tuesday, with Irish Americans and members of the Irish diaspora celebrating amid a flurry of green, members of an LGBTQ group officially marched in the parade for the first time, but not everyone was happy.

"It was basically a publicity stunt to deal with the gay problem," says Gaby Cryan, a third-generation Irish American and member of the Irish Queers, a group that's long protested the parade's exclusionary policy.

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New York's Bravest Is Trans FDNY Firefighter Brooke Guinan

Photo by Celeste Sloman for the Village Voice
"I couldn't get the voices out of my head of people telling me I'll never be a woman."
"The world doesn't have language to actively allow me to identify myself."

Leaning over the kitchen countertop in her two-bedroom apartment in Queens, Brooke Guinan tries to explain, via four horizontal lines she has plotted on a piece of paper, how the notion of gender is far more complex than the two extremes of "male" and "female." The lines represent four continuums: biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.

"I don't have a sexuality!" Guinan exclaims. "How does the world define a woman who was born male who likes men? What is the sexuality for that? You could say I was gay, but I don't identify as male. Trans is my gender identity. 'Transgender' is about my gender; it has nothing to do with my sexuality.

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Harlem Pastor Insists Starbucks is Spiking Lattes With Sodomite Semen

Categories: LGBTQ

Atlah Worldwide via YouTube
James David Manning
Red cup season is upon us once again and with it, hark! A raving homophobe. Anti-gay Harlem pastor James David Manning, he of "Obama has released the homo demons on the black man" notoriety, is back and he brings urgent news about your Gingerbread and Eggnog Lattes. Starbucks, he says, has spiked them not with rum (as per tradition) but semen. Not any old semen, either--the semen of Sodomites!

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Trans Woman Suffering Brain Damage After Bushwick Attack

Categories: LGBTQ

New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth
Kimy Hartman
It has been three weeks since Kimy Hartman was brutally attacked by a group of strangers while walking down the street in Bushwick. The four men who assaulted the 28-year-old didn't like the sound of her voice; when she spoke, they could tell she was transgender.

They called Hartman and her friend "faggots" and other slurs, punched and kicked her and, finally, smacked her in the head with a Plexiglas two-by-four. The last blow was so bad she required emergency surgery on her brain.

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FDNY's First Transgender Firefighter Gets Her Close-Up

Categories: FDNY, LGBTQ

Via Facebook
Last month, the New York City Fire Department's first and only transgender firefighter, Brooke Guinan, ignited a media storm after a poster of her -- standing defiantly in a helmet, braces, and T-shirt reading "So Trans, So What?" -- went viral.

The poster was part of an awareness campaign of the Vocal Organization for International Courage and Equality, an LGBTQ-advocacy group. And since being catapulted into the public eye, Guinan has been hailed as a role model for breaking the masculine stereotypes associated with firefighting and even other jobs that typecast the macho straight male.

See Also: The FDNY Is a Force of More Than 10,000. Can You Guess How Many of Them Are Women?

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Brutal Bushwick LGBT Hate Crime Is the Second in Two Weeks

Categories: LGBTQ

NYPD via YouTube
One of four suspects in Sunday's attack.
Ugly news out of Bushwick: Just two weeks after a gay man was shot in the torso by a group of men yelling homophobic and transphobic slurs at him, a trans woman was brutally attacked with a Plexiglas two-by-four. The second attack, which put the victim in critical condition, took place just three blocks from the first.

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Upstate New York Farm Must Allow Gay Weddings

Photo by Kelly Pfeister courtesy of the NYCLU
Jennifer, left, and Melisa McCarthy
An upstate New York farm has been fined by the state Division on Human Rights for refusing to host a wedding for a lesbian couple two years ago. Liberty Ridge Farm is located in Schaghticoke, New York, a 7,000-person town some 30 miles north of Albany. When Melisa Erwin and Jennie McCarthy decided to get married in 2012, as they told the press at the time, they thought Liberty Ridge would be the perfect place: they'd gotten engaged at an apple orchard, and getting hitched in Liberty Ridge's barn seemed like the perfect continuation to their rural theme. (According to court filings, the farm hosts blueberry-picking, pig races, and something called "pumpkin cannon shows.")

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State Senator Ruben Diaz Used Anti-Gay March for Marriage to Talk About Satan

Screenshot via Right Wing Watch
Diaz at the March for Marriage
Reverend State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. has represented the Bronx's 32nd District for some eleven years now, and on one point, he's always been consistent: the gays. Diaz, a Pentecostal minister as well as a Democrat, has remained implacable in his distaste for LGBT people, even when his lesbian granddaughter is leading a counter-protest directly across from his anti-same sex marriage rally. Even in light of the fact that two of his brothers were also gay. Even when the LGBT people in question are teens trying to attend the Harvey Milk School, which Diaz tried to put a stop to in 2003 by suing the city on the grounds that it discriminated against straight students.

So it's perhaps not surprising that Diaz promised he would bring 5,000 people to the National Organization for Marriage's second annual March for Marriage in Washington D.C. yesterday, even though it was the last day then senate was in session, and perhaps he had some other work to attend to. The buses were paid for by NOM themselves, and Diaz said he and more than 100 other Hispanic ministers would attend with their congregations.

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Harlem Church Puts Up Yet Another Homophobic Sign

Image via Joe My God
ATLAH World Missionary Church, the Harlem religious institution best known for its pastor's peculiar fixation on homosexuality, has put up yet another floridly offensive sign, this one stating the need to "take Harlem back" from both "pinch nose sellout Negros" and "demonic homos."

In February, ATLAH's pastor James David Manning briefly attracted worldwide attention with a sign in front of the church that warned that President Obama had loosed "homo demons" upon the black community. He followed with a sign stating the need to "stone homos."

In the intervening months, Manning continued his relentless schedule of blogging, hosting a virtually non-stop podcast, the Manning Report, as well as many hundreds of lengthy YouTube videos. But he failed to recapture the public's attention. Now he seems to have returned to his winning formula. Joe Jervis at the popular LGBT blog Joe My God was first to report the new sign, which, as you can see above, is filled with the same spirit of Christ's love as the previous ones.

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