Friday, February 28, 2014


We have been receiving messages to our inbox about that one Harlem church which tends to put up controversial messages for public viewing and thought it was appropriate to review some of the great gay black history of the Harlem Renaissance years.  This old post card of the Ubangi Club within the former Lafayette Theatre complex not only shows that these racy men of color had a lot panache but also apparently invented twerking by the early 1930s (although the duo saxophone embrace evidently never caught on). Gladys Bently was a legend in those years and the black lesbian pioneer owned the Clam House on west 133rd Street which definitely was a euphemism of sorts.  From what we would gather, Miss Bentley's impressive frame and predisposition to wearing men's suits probably had more than a few husbands uptown keeping a careful eye on their wives.

Another great gay Renaissance moment was when the daughter of W.E.B Du Bois married Countee Cullen in Harlem's celebrity wedding of the century but soon divorced because the famous poet spent all of his special moments with his best man Harold Jackman.  The true marriage of beauty and intellect was definitely between these two African-American men based on what was said behind closed doors.  Langston Hughes of whom Harlem remembers fondly was also a gay icon of the period even though his personal life was mostly kept secret during those times.  It has been written that"Virile young men of very dark complexion fascinated him."

We can go on with all the great stories but folks will believe what they will believe and the sign after the jump has caused quite a stir as of late.   We just tell our gays of Harlem to be out and proud whether you are black, white, lesbian, transgender or whatever since uptown has always had a rich, diverse community.

And here is the sign in question that is all over the news.  Any constructive thoughts? Keep it civil folks...


  1. Well, the great thing about Atlah is just when you think they can't get any crazier, they come through with something even more lunatic. Honestly, I sometimes thing they sit in the basement saying ... 'yeah, that's really stupid. Let's do it!;

  2. I can recall the gay scene in Harlem as being very active, especially in the late 60's through the early 80's. Although there were gay clubs & bars down in the Village and the UWS that catered to blacks, the "place" was definitely uptown. The Big Apple was dubbed as the bar that catered to senior gays. The Zanzibar was for "rough trade," while Jay's and Andre's were the two most popular gay bars on 125th Street with Celebrity Club coming in at 3rd place. And lets not forget that Harlem had its own gay sauna at East125th and Madison up until 2003. House party's and "after hours spots" catering to gays were a plenty. Even in Marcus Garvey Park there was a 'gay section' where both black and Latino gays congregated together. I can remember watching African drummers perform with gay brothers dancing along back in '72.

    I do support Rev. Mannings right to an opinion and his and anyone else's right to an opinion and the voice to publish that opinion. If he and those of his ilk want to publicly demonstrate just how sorely lacking they are in intellect & breeding, well as Pope Francis I says; "...then who am I to judge!" As my grandmother used to say; "we need to keep him in prayer."

    1. Greg which Zanzibar are you speaking of? The one in Midtown, the one in NJ or was there a Zanzibar uptown back in the day?

      Researching Black Gay Clubs throughout History.

  3. Rev. Manning got what he wanted, attention.

  4. I'm assuming that Atlah, like every other church, is a tax exempt organization. Therefore isn't it a violation for them to endorse (or campaign against) politicians?

  5. Once again, thank you Greg for putting the history in perspective from someone whose family has been here for generations!

  6. This hate speech is a blight on the neighborhood. And I don't' want my tax dollars paying for them to spew this offensive lunacy. I can't imagine if they replaced "homo" with Jew, Muslim, Christian, Black, White, Hispanic or Asian it would have be tolerated this long. Shut them down and turn the space into something that actually serves the spiritual body of the community.