Saturday, January 24, 2009

Inauguration Blog: After The Cold Rush

Well, Inauguration Week has come and gone. This was truly one of the more historic weeks in our nation’s recent history, and I feel truly blessed to have been a part of this past week as well as this entire past year from the primaries forward.

There wasn’t much going on the day after Inauguration – in fact, all I did was go to the front of the White House where a couple dozen of us gathered to serenade the first family on their first full day. I also discovered that what I’d presumed was always the “front” of the White House – the side facing the Ellipse and the Washington Monument – turns out to be the back! I’d always wondered why Pennsylvania Ave. ran in back of the White House if that’s where the address was … well now I know, it doesn’t! I was always in the back of it! Needless to say, I unfortunately arrived a little bit late for our serenade.

As the press had stated about the inauguration, this was to be an unprecedented level of attendance. So far I’ve yet to hear any estimates on the crowd, but the show lived up to the billing. It may have been so well attended that they either over-ticketed the event, or perhaps someone figured out a way to counterfeit tickets for one of the front-of-the-pond staging areas. Another of our Trans bloggers – Donna Rose – was to have been sitting in one of those prime spots in the Purple Section on the other side of the pond from we Silver Section folks. While I had a central vantage point, the distance made the details obviously a bit hard to distinguish. I was looking forward to a closer shot from Donna’s vantage point.

As it turns out, Donna and her pal Rachel – as well as literally thousands of others with Purple tickets – were turned away from the gate. Something apparently went badly wrong as the Purple Section was full, clearly visible from our section – but these thousands of Purple ticketholders were never to see a bit of the ceremonies (save for whomever may have watched on someone else’s TV or video elsewhere). It apparently made national news and has it’s own scandal tag: Purplegate. Donna’s got an extensive recount of her experience and links to others on her blog (

That is disturbingly heartbreaking. As Donna noted, there were people who’d flown in from the U.K., one man from Minnesota who had worked the campaign and had sold his snowmobile (essentially a waterbike made for snow) in order to pay for the trip, and thousands of others including relatives and employees of Congress members who had looked forward to this day – only to be denied opportunity to even see a minute of it! It would’ve infuriated me as I’m sure it did for them!

Now I feel crappy having complained about our minor delays, confusion and re-routings. Having heard about how hotly demanded the tickets were to this event – especially being nothing more than a mere delegate – I was truly honored to be invited even to our Silver standing area. It wasn’t until today that I’d realized exactly how fortunate.

It’s almost surreal looking back at how I initially had hopes for John Edwards until the first few primaries and his quick departure, and how I’d immediately switched to Barack Obama (knowing as a Trans person that Clinton wouldn’t be there for us) but swore off getting involved in campaigning as I did the previous two presidential cycles. Then a short six weeks later when the precinct chair who’d taken over for me (a lesbian devoted to Hillary) tried to sublimely pull a fast one by keeping primary info from me, and Oxycontin-head Rush Limbaugh began exhorting conservatives to cross party lines and vote for Clinton in order to bloody up the Democratic primaries, I enlisted myself in the Obama campaign just as I’d promised myself not to do!

Little did I know at the time that I was going to be leading my precinct and our charge into Texas’ State Convention, nor did I even fathom going back to the Democratic National Convention in Denver nor working the campaign in Ohio, much, much less seeing the inauguration in person. Yet somehow I find myself here.

Unfortunately, even though I knew a number of folks from Houston were coming up, the only one I saw while here was Roland Garcia (as I’d gone to a party he’d invited me to). And I never made connections with any of the other Trans Community members making it up here for the event – nor did I manage to connect with Diego when I went up to the Hill on Friday.

However, I never felt alone. There were always plenty of folks to talk to, even when I was just biding time grabbing a quick snack in the House / Longworth Cafeteria as I chatted with a woman who’d just moved up from California, a former staffer of Sen. Heinz of Pennsylvania, who was actually putting out paper and trying to land another position as staff in one of the offices here. It surprised me as she was casually dressed, but then the entire week seemed more casual than usual on the Hill, even in the House and Senate offices.

As cold as it was during the inaugural festivities, it was a gorgeous day on Friday – very mild, low 50’s. It’s a shame we couldn’t have had that kind of weather earlier on, but what a way to end the week! Maybe it was just the fact that there were other “holdovers” like me who were in town post-Inauguration. Maybe it’s just a different environment due to the absence of the typical flint-eyed corporate domination that’s flavored Capitol Hill these past eight years. Either way, it’s a much more inviting place these days for all.

We’ve returned to the days where Capitol Hill is once again “the People’s House.”

“Come on-a my house, my house, I'm gonna give a you
Apple a plum and apricot-a too, eh….” — Come On To My House, Rosemary Clooney

1 comment:

Mike Licht, said...

The Nation's Capital will celebrate the effective, efficient security measures during the recent Inauguration festivities at the National Bollard Festival.