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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

Jesus' Sex Life on the 'Down Low'

(14) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 8:28 PM

While many biblical scholars have ignored non-canonical texts like the gnostic and apocryphal gospels that suggested that Jesus had a wife, they are no longer ignoring the 2012 discovery of an ancient, faded fragment of papyrus that makes just such a suggestion. According to this month's New York Times article...

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America Cleans Up Its Homophobic Lexicon

(6) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 6:34 PM

As the country becomes more accepting of the civil rights of its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Americans, it is also beginning to reexamine its language used to demeans us.

In last month's New York Times' article "The Decline of the 'H' Word," Jeremy Peters wrote...

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Katy Perry's Blasphemous Act of Free Speech

(0) Comments | Posted March 13, 2014 | 2:00 PM

"Dark Horse" Video Offends Some Muslims

For centuries now, free speech versus protecting religious sensibilities have been warring enemies. And both not only need protection from each other, but also need protection from censorship.

The ongoing debate between of what constitutes an artistic expression of free speech versus religious protection...

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Nigeria's Anti-LGBTQ Law

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 7:44 PM

When Nigeria's "yan daudu" population no longer walked freely and publicly in their communities, it was a clear and ominous sign to everyone of what was coming down the legislative pike: a new draconian anti-gay law.

For more than a century, the "yan daudu" (shorthand for "men who...

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Que(e)rying Michael Sam's Coming-Out Timing

(0) Comments | Posted February 18, 2014 | 5:28 PM

When NBA center Jason Collins came out last year, it was the moment that the professional sports world had been waiting for: a male athlete currently playing in a major sports league coming out publicly as gay. What many may not have known is that the professional sports world...

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Robin Roberts Loosens the Grip of Black Homophobia

(4) Comments | Posted January 15, 2014 | 9:22 AM

While I will continue to argue that the African American community doesn't have a patent on homophobia, it does, however, have a problem with it.

Black homophobia still has a deadly hold on African American life. And while I would like to say its oppressive grip only impacts lesbian,...

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Mandela's LGBTQ Advocacy Has Fallen on Deaf Ears in Africa and African Diasporic Communities

(1) Comments | Posted December 18, 2013 | 5:18 PM

As the world mourns the passing of Nelson Mandela -- who was oftentimes affectionately referred to by his Xhosa clan name "Madiba," or as "Tata" ("Father") -- I, too, like so many LGBTQ activists across the globe, give thanks for his unwavering support on behalf of our civil rights.


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The LGBTQ Community's Response to Alec Baldwin's Anti-Gay Slurs: A Race-Based Double Standard?

(17) Comments | Posted November 22, 2013 | 3:10 PM

Alec Baldwin has done it again: He's been caught on camera hurling anti-gay epithets in a cussing tirade against the vulturous paparazzi on his heels. This time Baldwin is accused of spewing out the slur "c*ksucking f*ggot."

Baldwin doesn't deny using the word "c*ksucking." Some argue that this particular admission...

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Monogamous: To Be or Not to Be?

(4) Comments | Posted November 11, 2013 | 11:31 AM

The one thing you don't expect to see in any of the Bible Belt states (most of which have amended their constitutions to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman) is an organization promoting polyamory.

Last month at Atlanta's pride parade, the group

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Now Is the Time for Attention to Intimate Partner Violence in LGBTQ Communities of Color

(32) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 1:13 PM

Every Monday morning, "Alex" (not his real name) and I met for breakfast at our favorite dive in Harvard Square. I would notice visible bruises and cuts on his face, arms, and legs, but I assumed that the black-and-blue marks were simply par for the course for a guy who...

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Has Gentrification of New York's Harlem Neighborhood Stirred Up Prejudice Against LGBTQ Residents?

(4) Comments | Posted September 6, 2013 | 11:59 PM

Gentrification of neighborhoods always disrupts existing communities within them. Sometimes the disruption brought on by gentrification is expressed in anger and violence toward not only the transitional group ushering in the change but the existing denizens of the community.

In the pre-dawn hours of a Saturday in August, Islan...

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The Queer Politics of Writing on Race

(9) Comments | Posted August 19, 2013 | 6:59 PM

When Sue O'Connell, the publisher and editor of the Boston-based LGBTQ newspaper Bay Windows, which I also write for, penned her piece "Sharing our experience: White gay men and black men have more in common than they think," a firestorm erupted. Evidence of the conflagration was not...

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Black, Gay and Living in a 'Voting Rights? No! Gay Marriage, Yes!' World

(0) Comments | Posted July 15, 2013 | 4:06 PM

I now have had ample time to recover -- from both shock and awe -- from the Supreme Court's historic decisions announced in the final week of June.

My awe moment was Wednesday, June 26. It was a great day for me as a lesbian American. Historic decisions in both...

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Rattled With PTSD: Post Traumatic Snake Disorder

(0) Comments | Posted July 3, 2013 | 4:50 PM

This 4th of July there will be no grilling on my back porch.

And here's why: This past Sunday morning I found myself in a chapter of a Stephen King novel.

It began as a hot, lazy, humid, and deliciously quiet morning. I got...

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Black Pride: Distinct and Emblematic

(3) Comments | Posted June 6, 2013 | 1:47 PM

Black Pride reaffirms our identity. And it dances to a different beat.

What started out in Los Angeles in 1988 as the only Black Gay Pride event in the country has grown to over 35 gatherings nationwide. Each year celebrations start in April and continue...

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Tom Joyner's Homophobic Message to the Black Community

(45) Comments | Posted May 16, 2013 | 5:27 PM

On May 1, Jason Collins, the 7-foot-0 center for the Washington Wizards and a former Boston Celtics, came out. His statement -- "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay." -- made the cover story for the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated. That same day,...

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Jason Collins: The Great Black Hope

(6) Comments | Posted May 2, 2013 | 9:25 PM

The professional sports world has been waiting for a Jason Collins moment: a gay athlete currently playing in a major league who comes out publicly. What you may not know is that many had hoped that the moment would star an African-American male. The African-American community, not to mention the...

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Another Tackle in the World of Homophobic Sports

(0) Comments | Posted April 5, 2013 | 3:05 PM

Another former professional athlete came out last month -- 6' 7" Jamaican-born NFL offensive tackle Kwame Harris.

With news of LGBT equality in the news daily, one may wonder why this is news at all. But it is. The world of sports is quickly becoming the last closet, where...

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Mexico Sets the Tone on Hate Speech

(7) Comments | Posted March 19, 2013 | 3:22 PM

Homophobic epithets are so pervasive across the globe that most heterosexual people are sadly unaware of the psychological and physical toil they have on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people. Too often and cavalierly these epithets go either unchecked or unchallenged as hate speech.

Mexico, however, has...

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Was Marco McMillian Killed Because of His Sexual Orientation?

(8) Comments | Posted March 7, 2013 | 1:30 PM

Marco McMillian was a trailblazer and the pride of the Mississippi Delta. In 2004, when he was in his 20s, Ebony hailed him as one of the nation's top "30 up-and-coming African-American leaders" under 30. And when he was in his 30s, the Mississippi Business Journal

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