A filmmaker is making a interracial gay love story which is set outside a real-life homophobic New York church.
ATLAH Worldwide Missionary Church in Harlem, NYC is well-known for its eccentric pastor James David Manning, as well as a church sign which often proclaims homophobic messages.
The sign has proclaimed “Jesus would stone homos – stoning is still the law” – while Manning famously alleged that Starbucks flavours lattes with the “semen of Sodomites”.
But filmmaker Jeff L Lieberman is fighting back against the church in an amazing way, by making it the centre of a gay love story.
A synopsis for the film, My Harlem, explains: “When Nathan and Langston meet one day under a Harlem church sign, both are equally outraged by the message against ‘White homo demons’.
“But a conversation about the underlying issue of gentrification in Harlem quickly leads to a misunderstanding, salvaged only by their individual ideas about Harlem, and their mutual attraction.
“As we follow Nathan and Langston on their first few dates, we see the difficult and often playful conversations that ensue.
“But, their journey becomes more difficult as two of their first dates are interrupted with the news of police shootings of unarmed black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“As they watch the live feed of a woman’s desperate plea as her boyfriend lays dying, their different reactions to the politically-charged racial world divides them.”
Lieberman explained of his decision to feature the ATLAH church: “This particular church seems to take special enjoyment in targeting the LGBTIQ community, suggesting that ‘homos’ be stoned or thrown off buildings, and often exacerbating tired stereotypes of gay men as sexual deviants out to ‘steal’ the neighborhood.
“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 churches making political endorsements. You won’t be surprised to know that the sign proclaimed glowing support for a President Trump.
He added: “I thought it would be fascinating to confront this sign and the underlying truth about gentrification with a story about two people forced into a conversation as they each stop and absorb the shocking message.
“What developed was the story of Nathan and Langston, two men, one Black, one White, both gay, with very different reactions to the sign.
“It’s a film where being gay is not the primary focus, but issues of race, gentrification and sexuality are all combined into one.”
The film stars Michael Gregory and David Spadora.
A crowdfunding campaign has so far raised $1,480.