One of the marchers is Sal Garcia (left), a friend who agreed to answer a couple of questions for this blog on the eve of the event.
Blabbeando: I know that you have been marching locally at the different pride events throughout the New York City metropolitan area during the past few years. I always love it when I see you in the crowd. What has that experience been like over the years?
Sal: To elaborate on this, NYC is not our only venue, as the LGBAC, we represent the Lesbian and Gay community in places such as New Hope, PA, Ausbury and Montclair, NJ, Albany, Providence RI, Boston, DC, as well as participation in gay games across the nation etc. As a member of the LGBAC, my fellow band members and I are ambassadors for the LGBT community. We are in essence a family that through our love for music, dance, and the art of the color guard artistry bring attention to our community of LGBT citizens in positive light,
Blabbeando: You will be marching at the Inaugural Parade for the President of the United States. The first time that an LGBT marching band has ever been invited to participate. How did you find out that you would be marching? What was your reaction?
Sal: We put in our application as did other groups. We found out that we were being considered for participation shortly after Obama's election. At this point, whether it was a pre-parade performers or actual parade performers was unknown. In the early part of December we were informed that we would be a parade unit. Since then, we have all been on pins and needles.
Blabbeando. It will probably be an incredible experience. What are your expectations about the weekend?
Sal: We don't know what to expect. We have worked hard to represent our LGBT community across the nation and the world for that fact. We just all see this as a 'Brand New Day', which happens to the title of one of our songs (from The Wiz)
Blabbeando: BTW, it will probably be REALLY cold. Mittens or gloves?
Sal: Mixture depending what instrument or equipment you handle but I am wearing gloves.
Blabbeando: Finally, what does it mean for you that the event is part of the swearing in of Barack Obama, the first African-American president that this country has ever had?
Sal: What Joe (my partner) wrote on his Facebook wall gives you some perspective…
Being Part of History! 9:27am: In just hours Sal and I will join our brothers and sisters of the
Lesbian and Gay Band Association in Washington, DC as we make history by being the first lesbian and gay marching group to march in a presidential inaugural parade.
This is truly an honor, one which we approach with excitement as well as, nervousness. But the love of family and friends have been a source of courage and empowerment to all involved in this magical day.
Our friend and fellow band member, Leslie Becker, had this to say about the history of our civil right trek.
I have made a lot of history with some of you. Together as the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps we were the first openly gay group to perform for a president when we marched in the bicentennial of George Washington's Inaugural in 1989. That was Daddy Bush we played for then. And in 1993 with the Lesbian and Gay Bands of America (now Association) we played for the new president, Bill Clinton, at the Inaugural parade as pre-parade performers. That was truly an amazing experience, and many of my BAC friends were there to share the experience with me. And, it was so much fun that we did it again in 1997.To Sal and I, the LGBAC is a family that as you can see from Leslie's beautiful words has its own rich history within our Lesbian and Gay community. However, as we all know, nothing can grow without proper nourishment and thus, we thank you our family and friends for the never-ending nurturing and support that you have shown. Thank you for giving our LGBAC family and us, the drive, courage and fortitude to be the presence, sound and spirit of the Lesbian and Gay Community now and always! Hold on, We're Coming for it's a brand new day!
But this, this is by far the best. We have elected our first African-American president. Just 143 years ago the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished. In 1870 black men were given the vote. But I am betting that many were turned away at the polls until after the civil rights movement was well underway, thanks in large part to Rosa Parks being tired (and sick and tired) that night back in 1955 when she flat out said, by virtue of not getting up: 'No. YOU stand up. I was here first and my feet hurt.'
1945 saw Jackie Robinson in a Dodgers uniform as the first black man to play a major league sport. In 1969 schools were desegregated and "WHITES ONLY" signs finally disappeared from water fountains and public pools. So how historic is Barack Obama's election? Well, look at those dates. Much of it happened mere moments ago, in the grand scheme of things. So this is very historic indeed.
And now we continue a civil rights movement started by some drag queens who said "No," just as Rosa Parks did. (Only these queens battered police cars with parking meters.) In 1969 when our civil rights movement started it was a crime to be homosexual. Next Tuesday an LGBT band is marching in the Inaugural Parade. But we still have so very far to go, so we cannot ever rest on our laurels. We continue to fight the fight started that hot June night, only now we do it with flutes and flags rather than lighter fluid and matches.
I have faith in America. I have faith in our new president. And I have faith in us. We will march
along that parade route just as proudly as any other band. No...maybe just a little bit prouder, indeed.
Update: Here is how it all went down...