This week I talked with syndicated religion columnist Rev. Irene Monroe, whom GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) has named the recipient of the 2012 Spirit of Justice Award. GLAD is the architect of the legal push for gay marriage in this country, and its Spirit of Justice Award recognizes individuals whose work and achievements reflect a profound dedication to our LGBT ideal of a just society. Monroe states that she takes an interdisciplinary approach to writing her columns (which appear in 43 cities across the country and in the UK), drawing on critical race theory and African-American, gay and religious studies. As a religion columnist she tries to inform the public on the role that religion plays in discrimination against LGBT people. Given that homophobia is consistently acted upon in the name of religion, she aims to highlight how religious intolerance and fundamentalism not only shatter the goal of American democracy but aid in perpetuating other forms of oppression, such as racism, sexism, classism and anti-Semitism. I talked with her about this and how Obama's second term will affect the future of our LGBT civil rights.
When asked about her personal commitment to LGBT civil rights, Monroe stated:
My commitment to the LGBT community begins with me. It's sort of like, how do I, with my multiple identities -- you know, Afro-American, lesbian, religious on a good day -- how do I live those intersections with integrity? One of the things I found out getting involved with various organizations at the beginning -- and they have changed enormously, I must say, from where they started and where I started with them -- they look at these issues in a much more integrated way, which is one of the reasons GLAD gave me the Spirit of Justice Award, and to shed light on the many intersections of oppression. And how do we do that with not only integrity but bring a lot more people in our struggle, which we would be much better off doing? So I felt with GLAD, for instance, bringing how do you reach out to the Afro-American community in a way that not only speaks about particular needs but also speaks to their particular cultural ways of expressing or wanting to be expressed around issues that not only impact them but also impact the LGBT community? Too often, as you know, the black community has felt like they've been "pimped" -- that's the terminology that they've used -- by the LGBT community. So it's been ways of how to make those connections.
Rev. Monroe is a graduate of Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University and served as a pastor at an African-American church before coming to Harvard Divinity School for her doctorate as a Ford Fellow. Monroe, also a HuffPost blogger, was chosen by MSNBC as one of "10 Black Women You Should Know." Monroe has also been profiled in O, The Oprah Magazine and on CNN's Paula Zahn Now and CNN Headline News. She lives with her partner in Cambridge, Mass.
For more information on Rev. Monroe, please visit irenemonroe.com.
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