On the day following Barack Obama’s reelection, plans were already underway for the inaugural festivities in the nation’s capitol in January. One of the most beloved traditions is the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol building to the White House.
In 2009, the Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA) became the first LGBT musical organization to participate in an inaugural parade. More than 150 musicians, representing a dozen LGBA member bands, converged on Washington, DC for a weekend of rehearsals in frigid temperatures before stepping off into the history books.
More than 2,800 organizations, including the LGBA, hurriedly applied to participate in the 2013 parade and last week, LGBA was notified it would be among 100 organizations selected to march.
Several members of the local South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble participated in the 2009 parade and plan to make the return trip in January.
Fort Lauderdale resident Adam DeRosa, who also serves as president of LGBA, said of the news, “I was both excited and humbled. Since LGBA participated in 2009, I thought our chances of being invited in 2013 were pretty slim. However, we submitted a very compelling application, including letters of support from over 30 politicians from across the country, including Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Alcee Hastings.”
Political and cultural winds have shifted a great deal since the band’s first appearance. President Obama pushed for the successful repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, several states have endorsed marriage equality, and key civil rights cases are pending before the Supreme Court.
“In 2009, the thing I remember most was marching past all the military personnel and appreciating that the LGBA was marching ‘openly’ and that this would soon change for our family in the military. President Obama kept many of his campaign promises relating to the gay community and for that, I am grateful,” said DeRosa.
DeRosa and LGBA coordinators expect an even larger band for the 2013 inaugural parade, drawing participants from nearly every member band and all corners of the country. While many will be making a return trip, DeRosa is most excited for those musicians who will be marching with the massed band for the first time.
He explained, “I am excited to march with a whole new group of people in 2013. That is really the great thing about any LGBA band event: no two are ever identical. In fact, I will be marching with folks who were still in high school in 2009!”
The 57th Inaugural Parade will be broadcast nationally and internationally on Jan. 21, 2013 following the swearing in ceremony for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden. Check your local listings for stations and times. To learn more about the South Florida Pride Marching Band, go to PrideWindEnsemble.org, and for information about the LGBA, go to LGBA.org.