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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 Atticus We Don't Want to Know

(3) Comments | Posted July 20, 2015 | 11:56 AM

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 | 5:58 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 | 12:04 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 | 5:02 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 | 1:02 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 | 10:48 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 | 5:57 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 | 9:15 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 | 10:39 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 | 10:34 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 | 9:23 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 | 4:09 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 | 9:10 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 | 3:11 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 | 4:34 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 | 2:21 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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The Real Superheroes of P'Town Carnival

(0) Comments | Posted August 28, 2014 | 12:31 PM

The best week to be in Provincetown is the week of Carnival. The parade is its signature extravaganza.

While many would contest that any week in P'Town during the summer months is a carnival, the official date is always week thirty-three -- this year it was from August 17th -...

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Is Celibacy the New Ex-Gay Ministry?

(1) Comments | Posted August 12, 2014 | 11:41 AM

Embracing celibacy as an appropriate religious duty for God-abiding LGBTQ Christians is now on the rise.

No joke.

Progress has been made on federal and state levels concerning LGBTQ civil rights, but many churches, especially in certain conservative religious circles, are far behind.

For those heterosexual Christians who...

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African-American Sisters Aging With HIV and Co-Morbidities

(2) Comments | Posted August 1, 2014 | 12:28 AM

Imani* was 32 when she contracted HIV. Having watched many of her sister-friends die as a result of the virus, Imani did not expect to reach middle age. Now in her fifth decade of life, Imani has multiple new challenges. She self-manages her HIV -- along with her diabetes...

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Boston LGBTQ Communities Divided on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

(2) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 11:23 AM

As Secretary of State John F. Kerry finishes his week in the Middle East, where he attempted to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the tensions of this conflict have divided the LGBTQ communities of Boston.

At a recent protest rally on the streets of Boston, just one of...

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