Irene Monroe on Prop 8 and Black Homophobia

Jim Burroway

January 18th, 2009

Rev. Irene Monroe, Ford Fellow and doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School, has a short guest opinion in the January-February 2009 issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide about  Prop 8 and Black homophobia. This op-ed reworks and consolidates some of the themes she expressed on  November 11 when many in the LGBT community were scapegoating African-Americans for Prop 8’s passage.

Rev. Monroe’s G&LRW opinion piece isn’t available online, but I thought these few short paragraphs were good food for thought. She dismisses religion as a justification for the Black vote, pointing out that “as African Americans we have always been willing to disregard damning passages from scriptures about us, such as those that cursed all people of African ancestry (‘the curse of Ham,’ Genesis 9:18-27) or advocated slavery (Ephesians 6:5-8).” She also acknowledges the issues of racism in the broader LGBT community, but she doesn’t see that as an excuse for Black homophobia either:

While it is true that the whole GLBT community needs to work on its racism, white privilege, and single-issue platforms that thwarts efforts for coalition building with both straight and queer communities of color, the African-American community needs to work on its homophobia. No more excuses.

But there’s something else about Prop 8 she finds troubling:

In the end, much of the blame for the passage of Prop 8 rightly belongs not to the voters themselves, whether black or otherwise, or even to religion, but instead to the government apparatus that allowed a basic civil right to be put to a popular referendum. If my enslaved ancestors had waited for their slaveholders to free them predicated on a ballot vote, we wouldn’t be living in the America we know today. And Barack Obama would not be our new president.

Rev. Irene Monroe is the author of Let Your Light Shine Like a Rainbow Always: Meditations on Bible Prayers for Not-So-Everyday Moments.


January 18th, 2009

is it a combination of the two pieces that she has posted on her website? I’m glad you’re featuring her opinion here.


January 18th, 2009

This statement “While it is true that the whole GLBT community needs to work on its racism, white privilege, and single-issue platforms that thwarts efforts for coalition building with both straight and queer communities of color,” indicates that Ms. Monroe has a lot of work to do herself in the homophobia and racism departments.

Without knowing every single GLBTQ person she has declared that everyone – that’s what ‘the whole’ means – is deficient in treating people of color as equals. She cannot know that, so her statement assumes, with insufficient evidence, a negative generalization about an entire group of people.

Just shows the dangers of lecturing other groups of people about their perceived flaws.


January 18th, 2009

I should add, I know personally a number of people who consistently disprove her “the whole GLBT community needs to work . . .” declaration.


January 18th, 2009

aren’t we asking the whole african-american community to work on its homophobia? it takes everyone in a community to affect change. i would think that she includes herself in the whole of the LGBT community, as well.


January 18th, 2009

We need to do what we can to promote voices like Irene Monroe who are trying to bridge gaps between white LGBT people, non-white LGBT people and non-LGBT communities of color.

LGBT persons come from every community whether it’s an African American from Harlem or a former debutante from the most exclusive suburb you can think of. People often listen to people they know and can identify with. Outsiders are much less effective.

If we can cultivate and promote the various voices that represent the actual diversity of LGBT people, we can more effectively counter the lies and propaganda of groups like the Mormon dominated and funded Prop 8 crowd.

We have resources we haven’t even begun to tap.


January 19th, 2009

Reverend Monroe needs to have a nice long, sit-down, come-to-Jesus meeting with Jasmyne Cannick. She could strike a major blow against homophobia AND racism in one swoop just by enlightening this one angry, racist, homophobic individual who unfortunately has a big platform and an even bigger mouth.

It’s always so refreshing to read commentary by Rev. Monroe. Even when I disagree with some of the things she says (which is rare) I always appreciate the thoughtfulness, kindness and respectfulness with which she shares her opinion.

We need more people like Rev. Monroe to lead us forward as we try to heal the wounds and hard feelings that have developed and festered between the gay and African-American communities. We need to remember that these two minority communities have for the most part been pitted against each other by people who dislike or hate both blacks AND gays.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.