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Irene Monroe
A native of Brooklyn, Irene is a graduate from 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 Ford Fellow. She writes The Religion Thang, for In Newsweekly, now called New England Blade, the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender newspaper in the New England, Faith Matters for The Advocate Magazine, The Bilerico Project, Black Commentator, and Queer Take, for The Witness, a progressive Episcopalian journal, and Black Commentator.

As a nationally renowned African-American lesbian activist, scholar and public theologian, her writings have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, the Bay State Banner, Cambridge Chronicle, and Metro News. Her award-winning essay "Louis Farrakhan's Ministry of Misogyny and Homophobia" was greeted with critical acclaim. She has also been profiled in O, Oprah Magazine, and recently CNNs Paula Zahn Now, and "CNN Headline News."

She was profiled in the Gay Pride Episode of “In the Life TV,” and the segment on her was nominated for an educational Emmy. She has received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching while being the head teaching fellow of the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard who is the author of the best seller, The Good Book. She is in the film For The Bible Tells Me So, an exploration of the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the U.S. and how the religious right has used its interpretation of the Bible to stigmatize the gay community, and she is profiled in CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America that wasreleased in September 2008.

Her website is

Entries by Irene Monroe

The Refugees Who Came for Thanksgiving

(0) Comments | Posted November 24, 2015 | 9:45 AM

As I prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, I am reminded of the autumnal harvest time's spiritual significance. As a time of connectedness, I pause to acknowledge what I have to be thankful for. But I also reflect on the holiday as a time of remembrance - present and historical.


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Where's Log Cabin Republican Activism This Campaign Season?

(5) Comments | Posted November 13, 2015 | 3:40 PM

With four GOP debates now aired where all the presidential hopefuls are clearly either conservative or ultra-conservative on social issues, one has to wonder -- where are the Log Cabin Republicans in pushing forth LGBTQ concerns this campaign season?

While I am not a Republican, and I don't expect...

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What Should White LGBTQ Organizations Do Post-Marriage Equality?

(6) Comments | Posted October 22, 2015 | 5:30 PM

With this June's historic Supreme Court ruling -- Obergefell v. Hodge -- that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states many white LGBTQ organizations nationwide have been questioning what to do next.

Last month the Harvard Alumni Association and the Harvard Gender & Sexuality Caucus picked up the gauntlet...

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Hurricane Katrina's Struggling Black Gay Community

(0) Comments | Posted September 2, 2015 | 12:06 PM

It has been over a decade now since Hurricane Katrina barreled through New Orleans (NO). Today, much of the Big Easy has gotten its groove back. But the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, the largest of seventeen wards of New Orleans--and predominately African American--has not. The demographic group...

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The Atticus We Don't Want to Know

(3) Comments | Posted July 20, 2015 | 12:56 PM

The literary world rejoiced when news disclosed that reclusive author Harper Lee was soon to release her second book Go Set A Watchman, after 55 years since the 1960 publication of To Kill A Mockingbird.

As one of the most lauded novels in American history--and arguably as...

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The Welcome Challenges of Marriage Equality

(2) Comments | Posted July 2, 2015 | 6:58 PM

For some time now, my spouse and I have been bickering over where we should live in our retirement years. She, being a child from the South, and me, being from the North, well, we have our tensions. I have jokingly dubbed them our "Mason-Dixon line feud." We are...

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The Transparency of a "Incog-Negro"

(0) Comments | Posted June 22, 2015 | 1:04 PM

In trying to make sense of Rachel Dolezal, the self-identified "black" woman of two white parents, and the thought-provoking queries now raised about transracialsim and transethnicity Boston Globe cartoonist Dan Wasserman provided me with an answer:

"How does a confused Caucasian woman come to define the...

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Is Caitlyn Jenner the Right Poster Girl for Trans Equality?

(3) Comments | Posted June 4, 2015 | 6:02 PM

Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, has once again captured the world's attention. And this time not as America's beloved 1976 Olympic gold medal decathlete or patriarch in the TV reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

This time Jenner captures the world's eye, applauses and...

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Astraea Honoring Boston's Heroines

(0) Comments | Posted May 28, 2015 | 2:02 PM

J. Bob Alotta (center) with Honorees Daunasia Yancey (left) and Elyse Cherry (right). Photo courtesy of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice.

The evening of May 12th at the South End's wildly popular Bohemian hip spot "The Beehive" was a night to remember.

"It was...

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Discrimination in the Name of Religious Freedom

(4) Comments | Posted March 19, 2015 | 11:48 AM

A movement is afoot in state legislatures across the country to disenfranchise LGBTQ Americans.

There are a surprisingly high number of bills being introduced in state legislative sessions which outrightly sanction and enforce LGBTQ discrimination. These bills are called "Religious Freedom Restoration Acts" (RFRA), but don't be fooled. These...

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Boston's Forgotten Role in the Women's Movement

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 6:57 PM

March is Women's History Month and Mary Dore's documentary She's Beautiful When She's Angry helps us celebrate, remember and cheer one of our most vilified sheroes of the last century -- the women's movement.

Zooming in on the years 1966 to 1971, Dore excavated the archival images of...

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Historic Black LGBTQ Intergenerational Discussion on Selma

(1) Comments | Posted January 30, 2015 | 10:15 AM

If Bayard Rustin were alive today he certainly would have been proud on Monday as the LGBTQ communities held discussions on the film Selma.

Flashback Sunday, a social group for LGBTQ Elders of Color and their friends, and the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition convened "an honest and open dialogue"...

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That Day After Christmas

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2014 | 11:39 PM

I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a running joke among the residents of my block is that, unfortunately, we sometimes have to tolerate unpleasant sights and whiffs of each others' garbage as a result of the way our gaggle of sanitation workers barrels from house to house, leaving unsightly reminders...

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The Story of Young Santa

(0) Comments | Posted December 25, 2014 | 11:34 AM

The magic of Christmas lies in ritual. For me it's reading a Yuletide tale.

As a child the ritual was my carefully handwritten letters to Santa, and reading or being read the story "The Night Before Christmas," on Christmas Eve.

As I got older my letters to...

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Finding Home for the Holidays

(0) Comments | Posted December 23, 2014 | 10:23 AM

The Christmas season is a difficult time of year for me.

I am always bothered by our culture's egregious forms of commercialism -- and its either lack of or its anemic recognition of other forms for religious holidays like Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and the celebration of the winter solstice...

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Turkey Ambivalent on LGBTQI Population

(0) Comments | Posted November 17, 2014 | 5:09 PM

Turkey is a country conflicted when it comes to its LGBTQI population.

On the one hand, same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults in private have been legal in Turkey since 1858, and Turkey was the first country in the Muslim world to hold an LGBTQI pride march. Eleven years later,...

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Remembering the Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde

(2) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 10:10 PM

Have you ever wondered what unseen photos, untold stories, and unfinished works surviving partners of famous people are left with?

Dr. Gloria I. Joseph has a treasure trove of memories of the renowned Audre Lorde, her late partner. Joseph's long-awaited new book, The Wind Is Spirit: The Life,...

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Effects of Climate Change in My Backyard

(1) Comments | Posted October 3, 2014 | 4:11 PM

Sunday morning, September 21, Rita Renee Toll-Dubois and her lifelong partner Ranger Jean Rogers of Lynn, quietly boarded one of the many Cambridge buses heading to the People's Climate Change Marchin New York City. Toll-Dubois carried a placard made from a simple piece of undecorated white cardboard paper --...

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Black Children Are Beloved and Beaten

(1) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 5:34 PM

"Beloved and beaten." African American children -- past and present -- are loved fiercely, and disciplined that way, too.

This authoritative style of African American parenting is too often passed along generationally -- and uncritically.

When Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on allegations of child abuse, he...

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Back-to-School Not Welcoming to All LGBTQ-Students in Massachusetts

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2014 | 3:21 PM

It's back-to-school season for most and stepping back into the scene isn't easy for a lot of students -- especially LGBTQ students.

LGBTQ-phobias abound in the hallowed halls of higher learning and, unfortunately, we have to confront them here in Massachusetts, an A+ queer-friendly state.

I pray for LGBTQ freshman...

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