Growing Acceptance of Gay People in Harlem

Image via NY Daily News
Courtesy of Andrea Reese

A year after the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State, gays and lesbians in Harlem are finally coming out of the closet and into the streets. Initially, many LGBT people in Harlem felt unsafe holding hands in public but recent changes in attitudes have become more visible. “There is more acceptance and higher tolerance now,” says Tezra Bryant, who until this month was a restaurant manager in Harlem. “Businesses are starting to see the value of the gay community. People know that when they enter a business they are to be warmly welcomed.” Though there aren’t any openly gay clubs, centers, or other types of LGBT-friendly venues (for example those with rainbow flags outside the buildings), there are unofficial locations where people of the LGBT community tend to congregate. There is also an increasing support from the Harlem residents who don’t identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. “Even before I met them, I always believed everyone should have the right to be with who they want to be with,” says Marie Beltre. “It’s no one else’s business.” [NY Daily News]

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