More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Harlem Pastors Support Harlem Pride
Pastor Joseph Tolton (pictured right with members of his congregation), an openly gay pastor, plans to host a service in Marcus Garvey Park during the Harlem Pride picnic scheduled for June 25. Tolton also extends the invite to Harlem pastors that oppose the event.
"My church will be there in full force," said Tolton, who says most of his congregation at Rehoboth Temple Christ Conscious Church are members of the LGBT community.
Other Harlem pastors also spoke out in support of the event.
The Rev. Michael Walrond Jr. of First Corinthian Baptist Church told the newspaper, "I honor and respect their right to do what they want to do…My task is to love them.”
The Rev. Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church also had no issue with the picnic and spoke out against anti-gay rhetoric, "Spewing out venom like that does not help to foster the kind of communal spirit that we so desperately need."
The Rev. Earl Kooperkamp of St. Mary's Episcopal Church will encourage his members to attend the uptown festivities.
"Now we don't have to go all the way downtown, we can celebrate gay pride right here in the neighborhood," said Kooperkamp. "I think it's a good thing."
GLAAD worked with Pastor Tolton and the New York Daily News to ensure that affirming voices within the faith and LGBT communities were featured in this piece.
Read the full New York Daily News article here.