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Oh When The Gays Go Marching In

Monday, January 21, 2013 will go down in history as not only the Martin Luther King holiday but also the Inauguration of President Barack Obama to his second term. The crisp Washington DC morning brought us the swearing in of our 44th President, the reading of the Inaugural Poem “One Today,” (read by the first Latino and opening gay American), the “singing” of the National Anthem by Beyonce, and an inspirational Inaugural Address that referenced the historic Stonewall uprising for the first time in history.

The flags were waving, the crowds were cheering, then the real fun began…..the Inaugural parade.

Prominent in this year’s parade was the Lesbian and Gay Band Association, a conglomeration of twenty-seven Lesbian and Gay bands. This is a repeat appearance from President Obama’s first inauguration 2009, when the LGBA became the first Lesbian and Gay marching band to march in an Inauguration parade.

While they proudly walked down Pennsylvania Avenue, the 215 member group played loud and proud, holding a prominent Lesbian and Gay Band Association banner, playing an eclectic mix of music, ranging from “Somewhere” from West Side Story, “Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga, “Give Me Everything Tonight” by Pitbull and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic/Simple Gifts” medley. This was the day they could all come together, walk and play together for such an important and prestigious event: the Inauguration of the President of the United States.

Each band operates in their own communities, performing concerts, marching in parades and participating in Pride Events. Often several will collaborate in Pride Parades or visit other cities. Capital Pride Band from Columbus, Ohio performed in the 2012 Pittsburgh Pride March, so their talents were visible to Pittsburgh residents.

ACCORDING TO MR. DEROSA, ANY MEMBER OF THE 27 GROUPS THAT COMPRISE THE LGBA WAS ABLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE INAUGURATION PARADE.

Adam DeRosa is the current president of the LGBA, and has been since October 2011. He is a member of the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble. According to Adam, the purpose of the LGBA exists to provide a network of lesbian and gay bands and to promote community bands. But they do much more than participate in their local communities. Witness the Capital Pride Band appearance in Pittsburgh.

According to Mr. DeRosa, any member of the 27 groups that comprise the LGBA was able to participate in the Inauguration Parade. Pre-registration had to be completed by the end of October. After credentialing by the Secret Service, each member paid the registration fee and made arrangements to travel to Baltimore, where the group stayed and practiced. Each participant was responsible for paying for their own transportation to Baltimore.

Fundraisers were held, the most popular being $30 in 30 days in which participants and other members of LGBA each raised $30 in 30 days. The registration fees and fundraising proceeds were used to transport the group from Baltimore to Washington DC.

Each year LGBA has an annual meeting in one of the member cities, performing concerts and marching in the Pride Parade of the sponsoring city. Recently, it was Dallas, and this year at Atlanta Pride in October 2013. Next on the agenda is the Gay Games in Cleveland in 2014. Can Pittsburgh be far behind?

Highlights from last year were LGBA’s appearance at the 2012 AIDS Walk on Washington and 2012 World Pride in London. These were prestigious events and it demonstrates the Lesbian and Gay Band Association’s national and international reputation.

They do it for the pride of performing and pride in their community: their local communities and the Lesbian and Gay community. One of their shining moments was performing in the Inaugural Parade. You could sense their pride as the Lesbian and Gay Band Association marched down Pennsylvania Avenue and played for the President of the United States. Strike up the Band!