LGBT angles to watch for at today’s Presidential Inauguration

Following the address, Kelly Clarkson sings “America.” Then openly gay, Cuban-American poet RIchard Blanco will read at poem.

In a moving opinion piece for CNN, Blanco reflects on his many identities and the struggles he has faced, including dealing with his homophobic grandmother.

“She scared me into a closet so deep and dark that the idea of living as a gay man was completely, like a career in arts, out of the realm of possibilities. And so, like many gay men of my generation, I led a straight life, and was even engaged twice to be married, until I came out in my mid-20s,” Blanco wrote.

Concludes Blanco, “Being named poet laureate for the inauguration personally validates and stitches together several ideals against which I have long measured America.”

Immediately following Blanco’s poem, pay attention to the Benediction by Rev. Luis Leon, pastor of St. John’s Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square

In 2009, Leon served on the Steering Committee for D.C. Clergy United for Marriage Equality, according to the Washington Blade.

Leon is also notable because he replaces Rev. Louie Giglio, pastor of Atlanta’s Passion City Church. Giglio withdrew as the benediction pastor after news broke that he had preached in the 1990s against homosexuality and in favor of ex-gay conversion therapy.

“We must lovingly but firmly respond to the aggressive agenda of not all, but of many in the homosexual community. … Underneath this issue is a very powerful and aggressive moment,” Giglio said then.

During the parade

The inaugural parade immediately follows the inauguration ceremony. The parade steps off at 2 p.m., with the Obamas and Bidens expected to join in at 2:36 p.m., according to schedule posted by Huffington Post.

The parade includes 28 bands — including one LGBT band, the Lesbian & Gay Band Association.

Seven Atlantans are among the 215 marchers for LGBA: Atlanta Freedom Bands members Eddie Young and Bob Derickson, piccolo; Karen Helbling, trumpet; John Peterson, trombone; Robert Corona, color guard; Danielle Steele, honor guard; and Cliff Norris, sousaphone. Young and Norris are section captains on the artistic leadership team for the weekend.

LGBA is in the third section of the parade, led by the U.S. Navy. The Georgia State University Band is just ahead of LGBA.

LGBA is playing an arrangement of “Tonight” from the “West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein in the parade, “celebrating this special occasion with music by a great American composer who was also a member of our community,” said Norris, who is president of Atlanta Freedom Bands.

Also in the parade, watch for the official inaugural parade float entitled “Our People, Our Future.”

The float includes the eight “Citizen Co-Chairs” for President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony. Among them is David Hall, an openly gay Air Force veteran who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and fought to repeal the policy.

Repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a key LGBT achievement for Obama during his first term.

All of the co-chairs were chosen “reflect the core values of this Administration and the theme of the 57th Presidential Inauguration: Our People. Our Future.”

The other seven co-chairs include a nurse, a wind energy businessman, a woman fighting a brain tumor, a Purple Heart veteran of Afghanistan, a single mother, a woman who regained her job after 13 months of unemployment, and the co-founder of a home rebuilding effort in post-Katrina New Orleans.

They also participated in Saturday’s National Day of Service and will attend an inaugural ball.