Rev. Irene


African Americans
Black Panther Party
Civil Rights Movement
Internalized Oppression
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer
Racism/Racial Justice
U.S. History
Violence Against Women
White Privilege
Women & Feminism

Reverend Irene Monroe is an African American lesbian feminist public theologian, a sought-after speaker, religion columnist, and the Boston voice for Detour’s African American Heritage Trail.

Monroe is co-host of the new bi-weekly podcast, “All Rev’ed Up!” on Boston Public Radio WGBH (89.7 FM), which explores issues related to faith, race, social justice or a prominent national news headline. At a time of divisive discourse on the national stage, Rev. Monroe and her co-host Rev. Emmett Price III work to find common ground despite arriving at the conversation from different faith perspectives and hailing from different generations and different parts of the country.

Monroe is a also weekly Friday commentator on New England Channel NEWS (NECN), a Huffington Post blogger, a weekly columinst in the Boston home LGBTQ newspaper, Baywindows, and a syndicated religion columnist whose columns appear in 23 cities across the country and in the U.K. and Canada.

Her columns, TV appearances, and radio commentary use an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on critical race theory, African American, queer and religious studies. As a religion columnist she underscores the role religion plays in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. She explains: “Because homophobia is both a hatred of the ‘other’ and it’s usually acted upon ‘in the name of religion,’ by reporting religion in the news I aim to highlight how religious intolerance and fundamentalism not only shatters the goal of American democracy, but also aids in perpetuating other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, and anti-Semitism.”

Monroe is a Visiting Scholar in the Religion and Conflict Transformation Program at  Boston University  School of Theology. She is a founder and now member emeritus of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). She is also one of the founders of Equal Partners of Faith, the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry (RCFM) and Christian Lesbians Out (CLOUT).Monroe sat on the advisory boards of several national LGBTQ organizations. She served on the Religious Advisory Committee of HRC, NBJC and LGTF. Monroe was a board member of the Cambridge Family YMCA, and a Cambridge LGBTQ Commissioner.

As an activist Monroe has received numerous awards: the 2015 Top 25 LGBT Power Players of New England Award by Boston Spirit Magazine and the Open Door Award for work with HIV/AIDS, Black Church and LGBTQ community; 2013 Bayard Rustin Service Award recipient, and GLAD 2012 Spirit of Justice award. Monroe also received the Cambridge Peace and Justice Award, the Boston Certificate of Recognition for continued leadership and dedication to Boston's Gay and Lesbian Community, and in 1998 Monroe was the first African American lesbian to be bestowed the honor of being grand marshall in the Boston Pride Celebration.

She appears in the film For the Bible Tells Me So and was profiled in the Gay Pride episode of In the Life, an Emmy-nominated segment. She received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching several times while serving as head teaching fellow for the Rev. Peter Gomes.


"I have nothing but positive things to say about Rev. Irene! Thanks so much for an awesome event."

— Andrew Toczydlowski, University of Connecticut


"Rev. Monroe was very personable and approachable and was incredibly engaging with the audience."  

— Women of Color Caucus, Boston College


"Rev. Monroe's active role in the fight against homophobia and her written activism for human rights has truly made an impact on this world, as well as her theories on religion and homosexuality in the U.S."  

— United Nations International School


Making the Connections: The Role Religion Plays in Discrimination
Employing an interdisciplinary approach that draws on critical race theory, African American , queer and religious studies.  Rev. Irene Monroe’s workshop “Making the Connections: The Role Religion Plays in Discrimination” informs her audiences  of the role religion plays in discrimination against women, people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Because racism, sexism and  homophobia is both a hatred of the "other " and it's usually acted upon 'in the name of religion,” Rev. Irene Monroe highlights how religious intolerance and fundamentalism not only shatters the goal of American democracy, but also aids in perpetuating other forms of oppressions.

The Conceptual Trap of Whiteness
This workshop or talk  will examine the ways in which whites are harmed by a system of institutional racism, even as that system provides immense privileges to them on the basis of skin color. Although people of color are the targets of racism, whites, ironically, become the 'collateral damage' of the system that bestows such privileges upon them.

Specifically, the workshop will look at the ways in which racial privilege "traps" whites, mentally (in terms of encouraging racist mindsets and internalized beliefs in supremacy), culturally (in terms of requiring "whites" to relinquish their actual cultural/ethnic/national identities for the sake of 'becoming white'), economically (in terms of forcing allegiance to an economic system that disempowers most whites too), politically (in terms of encouraging whites to support public policy that is against the best interests of most persons, including most whites), and even spiritually.

This workshop also examines the ways in which systemic privilege "sets up" whites for a fall, by encouraging dysfunctional notions of entitlement that lead to a host of destructive and pathological cultural tendencies among the dominant group. 

Debunking the Notion of a Hierarchy of Oppression
This workshop or talk works toward the  goal of a participatory and multicultural community by examining the intersection of race, gender, class and sexuality, and how they impact identity, identification, and community building.

Homophobia from a multi-oppression perspective
An anti-oppression approach to anti-homophobia leadership training
1. To provide basic awareness of prejudice against sexual minorities;
2. To provide basic information on sexual orientation;
3. To explain stresses on gay/lesbian/bisexual youth and how this impairs educational performance;
4. To explain how prejudice against sexual minorities impairs educational
performance of all students;
5. To equip teachers with some tools and skills to use to reduce prejudice against sexual minority youth and to create an inclusive classroom & school environment.

Diversity Training Workshop
Rev. Monroe's prejudice reduction workshop serves as a vehicle in shaping awareness of systemic racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other “isms” within institutions and an analysis of the specific barriers to change. The specific goals of the workshop are: To explore a common understanding of the “isms” and their individual, institutional, and cultural manifestations; To begin to apply a common understanding of the “isms”  to specific situations within the classroom, and institution; and To talk with colleagues.

Role play/acting scenarios allow participants to relate to a given situation, talk about issues that have come up in school, witness a situation and learn from it as well as come up with an action plan - learning how to have confidence to deal with these incidents and provide clear resolutions in the moment of the incident as well as setting up objectives for the school to implement.

Work Preferences/Team Building Workshop
Goal and Aim:
 • The goal is to achieve improvement in the way staff  and faculty view and do their jobs. This brings about the productivity improvement benefit that all desire.
 • The aim is to inspire action that improves the way the department operates and the way staff interact.
 Key Benefits:
• Demonstrably better, more relevant and practical team building methodology that is easy to organize and deliver.
• Content is relevant, interesting, challenging and rewarding, because  it taps into real world workplace experiences of employees.
• Makes use of the people with  experiences at all levels and utilizes this diversity of interests and experiences to shape solutions and improvements for the department.
• Identifies the challenges faced by the department, internally and externally.
•  Gains consensus through role playing
• Encourages self-criticism.
•  Can identify hidden talent and talents within the group.
•  Develops trust, responsibility and loyalty.
Work Preferences Workshop is an application of a flexible small-group activity to enable players to express, explain, and exchange what they need, want, or like in a work and learning situation.

Work Preferences Workshop has two important outcomes:
• Players express, explain, and exchange a wide range of preferences about adult working and learning environments.
•Players work cooperatively and creatively in teams.