Published on November 21st, 2016 | by Melissa Terrell0
Inauguration 2017 Announcement
The LGBA membership response to the Inauguration 2017 pre-registration efforts was epic – 500+ of you pre-registered to march on January 20 in our nation’s capital. Some of us view the Inauguration as a celebration of our great Democracy while others view the Inauguration as a celebration of the president-elect. Many of us believed that the election result would culminate with the ultimate expression of Music, Visibility and Pride.
319 pre-registrants responded to the survey sent out this week. We needed your guidance in order to best represent you, our constituents, and we appreciate your responses and comments. The Board members were provided with the survey results and 17 pages of comments to review before today’s meeting. I am humbled by the confidence so many of you communicated to us when you stated “that the Board should do whatever is best for the organization” or that you “will support the decision, whatever it may be.” The Board had a respectful yet passionate discussion today about the future of our application. It has been an emotional 11 days for this Board; I am certain each Board member has felt the weight of this decision.
Eight years ago, The LGBA Board of Directors established a policy to apply to march in the inaugural parades regardless of the election’s outcome. Many of us on the Board in 2008 could not imagine the developments we’ve seen over the last 18 months during the election or these few days after it. Our nation is divided. The divisiveness is unprecedented. The anger being expressed in violent ways on either side of the election results are particularly concerning.
When we first wrote to you the day after the election, your Board thought we might still be able to apply while being true to our motto of Music, Visibility and Pride. Since then, it has become obvious that even applying to participate cannot honor that motto. We would be making Music and would be Visible, but the cost to our Pride for many of us would likely be devastating. If selected, LGBA would have no control over the ways that the new administration would use LGBA’s participation.
The Board is also concerned for the safety of our community. While the parade route itself should be a safe zone, we cannot hope to guarantee our safety while traveling, while rehearsing in public or while out and about in the D.C. area during the weekend. All minorities are at risk and any opportunity we give the new administration to co-opt a minority organization will likely be exploited to our detriment.
By unanimous vote by the Board, LGBA will NOT be submitting an application to the Presidential Inaugural Committee for the 2017 Parade.
Some of us were interested in participating as a unit in the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017. After careful consideration and research, the Board has decided against participating as a unit in this March. We encourage you all to consider participating in local versions of the Women’s March and watch for further information on these local efforts and LGBA’s opportunities to support local marches in the near future.
Many hours and resources have been devoted to the planning for our application and participation in the parade. The Board’s planning team of Melissa Terrell, Derek Hassell, Sam Cantor, Patti Calandra, Tim Yanok as well as Artistic Director Justin Stolarik and Assistant Artistic Director Derrick Johnson deserve our unqualified gratitude and respect for their efforts.
These are trying times for all of us. It is our sincerest hope that we treat each other in our LGBA community and the broader community with compassion, peacefulness and Pride. We can stand up to hatred without participating in the hateful rhetoric. It remains our honor and privilege to serve our LGBA family.
Lesbian and Gay Band Association
Board of Directors