Rev. Irene Monroe

Recent Articles

Haiti’s LGBTQ-accepting Vodou societies


As I celebrate Black History Month, I’d like to recognize one of my indigenous West African ancestral religions that’s not homophobic — even if some of the practitioners are. To the disbelief of many — it’s Vodun. Haitian Vodou is an ancestral folk religion whose tenets have always been queer-friendly, accepting people of all sexual orientations and gender expressions. It’s just one of the religions brought to the New World by the African Diaspora, but there is no religion that frightens and fascinates the world over as much as Vodou. Misconstrued by racist images of zombies rising from graves, jungle drums, cannibalism, orgiastic ceremonies ritualizing malevolent powers of black magic, and by today’s popular culture images courtesy of Hollywood’s and New Orleans’ tourism industry, Vodou is a persecuted and misunderstood religion. Continue Reading →

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Obama linking Selma to Stonewall divides Black community


President Barack Obama’s inaugural address was the most inclusive speech a president has ever given. It was delivered on the 27th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and the president honored King’s legacy when he eloquently spoke of how the many U.S. liberation movements, both current and historic, are interconnected. “We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall.”

As an African American lesbian, whose identity is linked to all three movements, I felt affirmed. I applaud the president’s courageous pronouncement. Some African Americans, however, felt “dissed” by the president’s speech. Continue Reading →

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Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation


This January 1 marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The original purpose for the document core to President Abraham Lincoln’s presidency may have been to free slaves, or it may have been solely a strategic move to decimate the Confederate troops’ stronghold in the South and win the Civil War. Its purpose was probably a little bit of both. Regardless of Lincoln’s intent, my ancestors named the day of Lincoln’s signing of this historic document Jubilee Day. Many African Americans continue to celebrate Jubilee Day with a New Year’s Eve church service called “Watch Night Service.”

I grew up in the tradition. Continue Reading →

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Unchained to portray Black slavery? Was there a politically correct way for Django Unchained to portray Black slavery?


The start of 2013 is making it difficult to avoid one of America’s greatest sins — slavery. We’ve just marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, and a plethora of films, documentaries and TV specials are scheduled to address slavery. One blockbuster hit that’s playing in cinemas now, and is likely to walk away with several Golden Globes and Oscars, is Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Django Unchained depicts a slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) who fearlessly treks across the U.S. to find his wife (Kerry Washington) in order to rescue her from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). The film is classic Tarantino: a homage to the spaghetti western with romance and revenge narrative. Continue Reading →

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Young White men in crisis: Race, gender link mass shooters

The most recent massacre, the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, took the lives of six- and seven-year-olds. It has shaken our nation to its core. The enormity of this devastation is incalculable. There are the small coffins of the victims killed during a holiday season at a tender age. It is also the death of the safety of a Norman Rockwellian belief in a perfect community. Continue Reading →

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MSR web exclusive: AP’s discouraging ‘homophobia’ is discouraging

Newspaper style manual picks the wrong word to tell media not to use

The editors at the Associated Press Stylebook have announced that they are “discouraging” use of the word “homophobia.” The AP Stylebook is the widely used guide that media use to standardize terms and general usage. Why should the LGBTQ community be in a kerfuffle about it? Because the editors made their decision without consultation with the nation’s leading LGBTQ organizations, leaders, activists and newspapers. That is a problem. Continue Reading →

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Malawi LGBTQs’ short-lived freedom


I’d like to believe that Malawi’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) citizens and tourists had a few days to breathe easier. On November 5, the government issued a moratorium suspending all laws decriminalizing homosexuality. Three days later, on November 8, homosexuality was illegal again. Had the moratorium held, Malawi’s LGBTQ citizens, who constantly walk in fear and have increasingly been singled out, could not be arrested by police or be reported as engaging in same-gender consensual activity. Tourists would also be protected from arrest. Continue Reading →

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Latino activists join with marriage activists: Will it work?

The kerfuffle concerning undocumented immigrants and legalizing same-sex marriage are usually competing and unresolved hot-button issues for voters heading toward the ballot box. Immigration advocates and LGBTQ rights groups have long tried to get its constituencies working together. Historically, the efforts have been abysmal. But there are organizations like Casa de Maryland, a community organization advocating for undocumented immigrants that has formed an alliance with Equality Maryland and the Latino GLBT History Project.  


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Dis-membering Stonewall

LGBTQ mainstream White-washes people of color out of historical 1969 rebellion

“By institutionalizing memory, resisting the onset of oblivion, recalling the memory of tragedy that for long years remained hidden or unrecognized and by assigning its proper place in the human conscience, we respond to our duty to remember.”

— UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura


Friday, June 27, 1969 was the last day of school that year. And with school out, my middle-school cronies and I looked forward to a summer reprieve from rioting against Italian, Irish and Jewish public school kids for being bussed into their neighborhoods. However, the summer months in Brooklyn’s African American enclaves only escalated rioting between New York’s finest — the New York Police Department — and us. During this tumultuous decade of Black rage and White police raids, knee-jerk responses to each other’s slights easily set the stage for a conflagration, creating both instantaneous and momentary fighting alliances in these Black communities — across gangs, class, age, ethnicity and sexual orientations — against police brutality. That night of June 27 started out no differently than any hot and humid summer Friday night in my neighborhood. Continue Reading →

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In South Africa, lesbians are terrorized with ‘corrective’ rape







To hear of human rights abuses of Uganda’s LGBTQ population is not new, sadly. Gay activist David Kato was the father of the Uganda’s LGBTQ rights movement. To many of his fellow countrymen, Kato was a dead man walking once his homosexuality became public. The country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, dubbed the “Kill the Gays Bill,” criminalizes same-sex relations. And depending on which category your homosexual behavior is classified as  —  “aggravated homosexual” or “the offense of homosexuality” — you’ll either received the death penalty or, if you’re lucky, life imprisonment. Continue Reading →

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