Boston Spirit’s Top 25 LGBT Power Players of New England for 2015

Power Player 2015 MonroeRev. Irene Monroe
Syndicated Religion Columnist
What does the Rev. Irene Monroe think of power?
“First, I think of power as a reciprocal relationship and collaborative energy that engages us all … concerning a social justice issue,” says the unabashed activist, author, Wellesley and Columbia grad. “Second, I think of power as a service one provides or donates to or for the community.” For Monroe, the latter may mean penning queer columns that enjoy publication all over the world, or enjoying the honor of officiating the nuptials of “folks in our community.” Just how prolific is the good Reverend? Her dossier now includes The Huffington Post, WGBH, the Cambridge Chronicle, Curve Magazine, and “Believe Out Loud,” an online network that empowers and educates Christians to work for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality.
“My columns are an interdisciplinary approach drawing on critical race theory, African American, queer and religious studies. As a religion columnist I try to inform the public of the role religion plays in discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people,” she says. “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 shatter the goal of American democracy, but also aid in perpetuating other forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism and anti-Semitism.” Top of mind for Monroe these days? Homelessness. “It breaks my heart,” she says.
Power Player 2015 MorseAlex Morse
Mayor, Holyoke, MA
What’s it like to be elected to public office at the age of 22? Just ask Alex Morse, now 24, and just starting his second term as the mayor of Holyoke. And, you can ask him if, like him and just about everyone his age, you are an aficionado of the latest social networking technology.
According to masslive.com, Morse takes to the tubes to connect with his constituents. He recently participated an in “Ask Me Anything” forums on reddit.com, “discussing the race for governor, how he got into politics, the city’s commitment to environmentally friendly energy, the sharp-elbowed politics played here, handsome robots, Comcast and whether he likes Matt Damon.” What’s on his mind these days? Homelessness, particularly as it impacts the LGBT community, is top of mind.
“There should be a more intense focus on LGBT homelessness, particularly among young people. We should advocate for reforms within the Department of Children and Families to ensure that LGBT young people are placed with LGBT-friendly families and communities,” he says. “We should also focus more on public health and healthcare delivery, and address the health disparities between various demographics among the LGBT community.” Alex Morse was born and raised in Holyoke and is a proud product of the city’s public schools. He is an alumnus of Brown University with a degree in urban studies, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. In his first term, he launched several new initiatives and incentives that have already catalyzed economic growth — helping both retain existing businesses and attract new development. In education, he has made early literacy a major priority. With help from the United Way, he created a Community Literacy office in City Hall and launched a campaign to increase 3rd grade reading scores. Mayor Morse has also made public safety a top priority. And, he’s just getting started.