Connect with us


Strike up the band

LGBT ensemble set for return appearance in Inauguration Parade



D.C. Different Drummers, Lesbian & Gay Band Association, Presidential Inauguration 2013, gay news, Washington Blade
D.C. Different Drummers, Lesbian & Gay Band Association, Presidential Inauguration 2013, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of the Different Drummers prepare to march with the Lesbian & Gay Band Association in the 2013 Presidential Inauguration Parade. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

It won’t be hard to pick out the Lesbian & Gay Band Association amid all the other contingents on Monday during the 57th Presidential Inauguration Parade.

The honor guard will be carrying a rainbow Pride flag as it leads the rest of the band members across Pennsylvania Avenue. One of the selections the band will play is “Edge of Glory,” a hit from gay icon Lady Gaga. And the band members will be clad in fitted black outfits with purple accents.

Adam DeRosa, president of the Lesbian & Gay Band Association, says the outfits were chosen with a nod to symbolism.

“Purple is in some ways, if you’re going to narrow it down to one color, a much more of a universal for the gay community,” DeRosa says. “And for the camera, again, we wanted it to be something that was really going to stick out.”

The band association — an organization of 32 local bands from across the country — will send 240 members to participate in the second-term inauguration of President Obama — a U.S. president who rode into re-election with a message of support from the LGBT community after, among other achievements, coming out in favor of same-sex marriage and repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

DeRosa, a 37-year-old French horn player with the Ft. Lauderdale-based South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, said the LGBT achievements seen under the Obama administration are one of the reasons he and other association members want to take part in the inauguration — taking particular note of the victory on Election Day for marriage equality in Maine, Maryland and Washington State.

“Because we’re a national and international group, we have, for instance, a band that’s in Seattle, and we now have members of the organization that are married since that election in November,” DeRosa says. “This is very real to us, and we absolutely are honored to part of it in that respect.”

In addition to the rainbow flag at the head of the unit, the honor guard in front will bear an American flag and a flag representing the band association. Members will carry state flags to represent each of the local bands participating in the contingent — making for a total of at least 20 flags.

Besides Lady Gaga, other songs the band is set to play are standard brass tunes intermixed with modern songs. On the playing list is a mashup of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Simple Gifts” as well as “Gimme Everything Tonight,” a more recent song by Pitbull. When the band reaches the glass box where President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will sit, the band will break into a rendition of “Tonight” from “West Side Story.”

Other local members involved in the association express similar excitement about participating in the parade based on work that President Obama has done on LGBT issues during his first four years in office.

Rachel See, a 37-year-old transgender French horn player for the Capital Pride Symphonic Band, says participating is “just a real honor” because, as an attorney for the National Labor Relations Board, she was helped by Obama’s memoranda instituting non-discrimination protections for transgender U.S. government employees.

“As a federal employee, I came out as transgender last year and the policy the administration has put into place supporting transgender federal employees and transgender people across the nation have been wonderful,” See says. “I’m glad to see that it was done and look forward to the next four years.”

Derrick Johnson, a 27-year-old black gay man and drum major in D.C. Different Drummers, says he feels “a symbolic connection” with Obama because they share the same race and because of the leadership Obama has exercised on LGBT issues during his first term.

“The correlation is definitely there,” Johnson says. “Breaking that barrier of the stereotypical president definitely helped to create a shift in thought and mindset in our country, and hopefully our world, in acceptance of differences and various demographics — and also coming down the pike and seeing his outright acceptance of gay rights definitely speaks highly toward the African-American community.”

D.C. Different Drummers, Lesbian & Gay Band Association, Presidential Inauguration 2013, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of the Lesbian & Gay Band Association marched in the 2009 Presidential Inauguration Parade. (Washington Blade file photo by Henry Linser)

It’s not the first time the association has participated in the inaugural parade. For the first time ever, the association was selected to march in the 2009 inaugural parade after Obama first won election to the White House. During the inaugural festivities for former President Bill Clinton, the group performed on the sidelines, but didn’t take part in the inaugural parade itself. The association didn’t participate in the inaugural festivities for former President George W. Bush.

Lacey Janet Rose, the Presidential Inaugural Committee’s deputy director of constituency press, says inauguration organizations are thrilled the association — which was selected among 2,800 bands that submitted applications — will have the opportunity to take part in the inaugural parade a second time.

“We are thrilled that the Lesbian and Gay Band Association has accepted their invitation to join President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s Inaugural parade,” Rose said in a statement. “The 2013 parade participants will showcase extraordinary talent and reflect the vibrant diversity of America. President Obama and Vice President Biden are proud to have the participation of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association for the second time in history.”

DeRosa, who’ll perform in the parade in a non-musical role as an honor guard, says despite the excitement, members were asked to commit to take part as the application was being compiled even before election results were known — regardless of whether the winner was Obama or Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“We basically had a pre-registration for us to understand who really was committed to this, but again, that was all happening prior to the election results, so people were really committed to being part of this event really regardless of what the outcome was,” DeRosa says. “So the gist of that alone logistically has helped us out. We had a much firmer number in our application to know exactly how many people, and because of that, we see that we’re going to have a larger group than we did last time.”

A number of prominent public officials supported the band’s application to perform. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Rep. Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) were among 30 lawmakers who sent letters to the committee advocating for the association’s participation.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wassserman Schultz, who represents DeRosa’s district of Fort Lauderdale in Congress, expressed similar excitement about the band’s participation in the parade in a statement issued by the association.

“I have been deeply heartened by President Obama’s commitment to creating one of the most open and inclusive administrations in history,” Wasserman Schultz says. “By choosing the LGBA for the Inaugural Parade this spirit will continue by treating Americans to the performance of a talented, worthy and deserving musical group.”

It’s because of this sense of openness and inclusion that DeRosa says association members are eager for a repeat performance in the nation’s presidential inauguration festivities.

“We feel a little bit more confident this time around since we’ve done it before,” DeRosa says. “But definitely still exciting, definitely still a lot of work to do. And really just trying to make it to be really representing the community as best as we can and see that we’re going to give an experience to our members that’s something they won’t forget.”


Federal Government

Trump indicted in classified document mishandling case

Former president to appear in federal court in Miami on Tuesday



Former President Donald Trump (Photo by shganti1777 via Bigstock)

A federal grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump on seven criminal counts in connection with his mishandling of more than 100 classified documents.

In a series of posts to his Truth Social account Thursday, Trump said that he has been indicted related to his mishandling of the classified documents taken to his estate at Mar-a-Lago after his term of office ended in January 2021.

The unprecedented decision comes after a more than yearlong investigation by special counsel Jack Smith into whether Trump knowingly retained classified and top secret government records when he left office and then disregarded a subpoena to return all classified documents in his possession and whether he and his staff obstructed Federal Bureau of Investigation efforts to ensure all documents had been returned.

A person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to discuss it publicly said Trump’s lawyers were contacted by prosecutors shortly before he announced on his Truth Social platform that he had been indicted, the Associated Press reported.

In the first of a series of posts Trump wrote:

“Page 1: The corrupt Biden administration has informed my attorneys that I have been Indicted, seemingly over the Boxes Hoax, even though Joe Biden has 1850 boxes at the University of Delaware, additional Boxes in Chinatown, D.C., with even more boxes at the University of Pennsylvania, and documents strewn all over his garage floor where he parks his Corvette, and which is ‘secured’ by only a garage door that is paper thin, and open much of the time.”

“Page 2: I have been summoned to appear at the federal courthouse in Miami on Tuesday at 3 p.m. I never thought it possible that such a thing could happen to a former president of the United States, who received far more votes than any sitting president in the history of our country, and is currently leading, by far, all candidates, both Democrat and Republican, in Polls of the 2024 presidential election. I AM AN INNOCENT MAN!”

“Page 3: This is indeed a DARK DAY for the United States of America. We are a country in serious and rapid decline, but together we will Make America Great Again!”

The Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for a comment.

The AP also noted it remains unclear what the immediate and long-term political consequences will be for Trump. His first indictment spurred millions of dollars in contributions from angry supporters and didn’t damage Trump in the polls.

No matter what, the indictment — and the legal fight that follows — will throw Trump back into the spotlight, sucking attention away from the other candidates who are trying to build momentum in the 2024 presidential race, the AP pointed out.

Continue Reading

The White House

White House debuts new actions to protect the LGBTQ community

The administration is coordinating efforts across different federal agencies



The White House was lit in rainbow colors following the Respect for Marriage Act signing ceremony (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden, during a call with reporters on Wednesday, announced a slate of new actions the administration will undertake to better protect the LGBTQ community.

These will focus on three major areas, she said: safety and security, issues for LGBTQ youth like mental health and housing insecurity, and combatting book bans.

President Joe Biden has “already developed a historic record of supporting the LGBTQ community,” Tanden said, noting that he and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden are also prepared to “host the largest Pride celebration in White House history” on Thursday evening.

At the same time, she said, LGBTQ Americans are now experiencing “a whole range of attacks” from “hateful, un-American legislation” to “a disturbing surge in violent threats.”

Administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the administration’s “community safety partnership” will “work hand in hand with LGBTQ community organizations” to provide safety training and resources, Tanden said.

For example, she said, “and it’s so unfortunate to have to say this,” but the partnership will help LGBTQ community centers “prepare for the worst” – including “bomb threats, active shooters, and cybersecurity threats – while also protecting “healthcare providers who serve the community by working with doctors and medical associations.”

Actions for LGBTQ kids that Tanden previewed on Wednesday include HHS’s development of a behavioral health care advisory for transgender and gender diverse youth, to help ensure young people are given the best evidence-based care.

On Thursday, she said, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will launch federal initiatives to combat LGBTQ youth homelessness and new regulations to “protect LGBTQ kids in foster care.”

Finally, Tanden said, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights “will appoint a new coordinator” to combat book bans, which disproportionately target, for exclusion, materials with LGBTQ characters or themes, or communities of color.

DoE’s coordinator will “offer trainings and resources to schools to help them understand that students have a right to learn free from discrimination, and that book bands may violate federal civil rights laws if they create a hostile environment for students,” Tanden said.

A senior administration official, responding to a question from the Washington Blade following Tanden’s remarks, elaborated on the scope of the community safety partnership.

Community organizations, they said, will include “health clinics, community centers, and organizations that are planning Pride celebrations, but it also includes small businesses like restaurants and bars that have been targeted because they’re run by LGBTQI+ Americans or because they host events that support that community.”

“We’ll be encouraging and reaching out directly to organizations that have been impacted by these violent threats to help make sure that they have the training and the resources they need to stay safe,” the official said.

They added that DHS and DoJ, in anticipation of the possibility that threats will increase in June, “have both been working proactively over many months leading up to Pride to communicate with state and local law enforcement about the threats that the community may face and to help local pride organizers get access to any federal safety resources they may need to help keep the community safe.”

Asked to explain how HHS’s healthcare focused initiatives will be reconciled with restrictions targeting medical interventions for trans youth in conservative states, the official noted ongoing efforts to fight back – including by federal rulemaking and litigated challenges of policies that violate Americans’ rights.

When it comes to the actions previewed by Tanden, the official said, “Almost half of LGBTQI+ youth say they seriously considered committing suicide in the past year, and that attacks on their rights have made their mental health worse. That’s a serious crisis that we want to take on and this advisory will help.”

Additionally, they said, “HHS is announcing that they’re going to release new guidance to states to help them use federal funds to offer dedicated mental health services to the LGBTQI+ community,” while “the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMSA, is releasing $1.7 million in new federal funding for programs that support the health and mental health of LGBTQI+ youth by investing in programs that are focused on family affirmation.”

Responding to other questions about anti-LGBTQ legislation and the rising transphobic and anti-LGBTQ sentiment in America, the official offered some insight into the Biden-Harris administration’s positions on these matters more broadly.

“Part of our role here is to lift up the stories of transgender kids and their families to help the American people understand what is happening to families who, as the President says aren’t hurting anyone but are being hurt by these laws,” said the official.

“These aren’t just attacks on the rights of LGBTQI+{ Americans, they are part and parcel of a coordinated attack on our democracy,” they said. “We’re not just talking about laws that target transgender kids. These are really laws that get at the heart of our basic freedoms and values: the right to free expression, the right to make decisions about your own body, the right to parent and raise your children.”

The official added, “Opponents of LGBTQI+ Americans are leading a pretty significant campaign of disinformation,” which have included “the same types of hateful lies and stereotypes that have been used against our community really for decades and for generations.”

Continue Reading


Calif. school district meeting over LGBTQ studies turns violent

Police officers and protestors clashed outside Glendale Unified School Board meeting



(YouTube screenshot from KCAL)

Police officers and protestors clashed outside a meeting of the Glendale Unified School Board over LGBTQ studies and the GUSD polices on addressing LGBTQ related issues.

News footage from CBS Los Angeles KCAL showed approximately 50 Glendale police officers attempting to keep the two groups separated and then fists were thrown as both sides engaged in physical assaults. A Glendale police spokesperson confirmed that some arrests had been made but wouldn’t comment further.

Witnesses and news crews noted that many of those protesting against the LGBTQ community were from the same group that had protested at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood, angered over a Pride month assembly. Officers from the LAPD’s North Hollywood Community Station responded and there were physical assaults as well.

The situation in Glendale has become increasingly acrimonious. Last year during Pride month, a third grade teacher at Thomas Jefferson Elementary, Tammy Tiber, had enraged some parents after speaking to her students about LGBTQ topics on Zoom. The GUSD officials later transferred her because Tiber had told them she no longer felt safe.

A spokesperson for the district said that all materials are vetted by the GUSD, and are in full compliance with curriculum that deals with LGBTQ history, mandated under California’s FAIR Education Act, which was signed into law on July 14, 2011, and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012.

It amends the California Education Code to include the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful reference to contributions by people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community in history and social studies curriculum.

Last month on May 18, a man who is not the parent of a child in the district, accused GUSD school board vice president Jennifer Freemon of concealing consistent attempts to “indoctrinate” students on LGBTQ issues.

“They are saying boys can be girls and girls can be boys,” Henry said during the board meeting. “If you believe in that, that is your opinion, and if that is your official policy, Jennifer, that is indoctrination because it offends a lot of people’s actual doctrine.”

As an example of instructing students to “behave inappropriately,” Henry referenced an alleged recent incident involving a student with special needs. GUSD student Thelma Gonzalez, who spoke later in the meeting, was allegedly asked to provide the definition of “scissoring” during a health lesson, despite her mother requesting that she be excused.

“A violation of their doctrine, their Christian doctrine,” Henry said, referring to Gonzalez and her mother. “Regardless of what you think, what I think, what the community thinks about any faith, you violated that. And if you don’t condemn that today, Jennifer, you are a hypocrite and a liar.”

He then mounted an attack on district polices regarding its transgender students.

“If you think they value your children, you’re more than entitled to think that,” Henry said. “They will not lie to you about your child, they will lie to these parents. They will conceal that private information from parents. You have enshrined that into doctrine, into policy, which is a misinterpretation of the law.”

It is not immediately clear what policy Henry was referring to. However, GUSD’s anti-discrimination policy states the district will only disclose a student’s “transgender or gender-nonconforming status” with their consent. It also mandates that a district official may discuss with that same student “any need” to confide in their parents or guardians.

Inside the Tuesday GUSD board meeting, pro- and anti-LGBTQ protesters faced off over how schools teach gender and sexuality, attendees were suddenly told to shelter in place as the violence outside escalated. The interruption came after about an hour of public comments, most of them in defense of the LGBTQ community and the district’s handling of materials and policies.

Protesters fight outside Glendale school district meeting about LGBTQ studies:


Continue Reading

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade