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Ohio musicians join LGBT band in presidential parade
Washington, D.C.--When Barack Obama leads his inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, he will have a contingent of gay bands behind him, including some from Ohio.
The Lesbian and Gay Band Association will be the first ever LGBT contingent to march in an inaugural parade.
Ohio�s three LGBT marching bands, the Queen City Rainbow Band, the Capital Pride Band of Columbus and Cleveland�s Blazing River Freedom Band will all have members in the 177-member contingent.
�The registration and elimination process was like being part of a reality TV show, waiting to see if you were going to be voted off the island,� said Fred Martens of the Queen City band, one of five musicians from Cincinnati heading to D.C. �I was sweating bullets for two days.�
The first time he tried registering online to perform in the Lesbian and Gay Band Association bloc, he couldn�t get on the web site, which had gone down due to too many hits.
The following day, the association changed their registration process to ease the load: Musicians logged on at different times depending on the instruments they play.
Martens got shut out of the saxophone group, but then successfully registered for clarinet.
He was one of the lucky ones--a total of 350 people vied for the spots in the parade.
�This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience,� said fellow clarinetist Sarah Morris, who had to register as a banner carrier after logging on too late to be with the clarinets. �I am so proud to have the opportunity to represent Cincinnati and the Queen City Rainbow Band.�
The idea of playing the inauguration was brought up when the Blazing River Freedom Band was in New York City for the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in October.
�It's an amazing thing considering when the national organization initially talked to us back in October, they thought if we did get invited, it would be sidewalk entertainment,� said Blazing River president Tom Casarona. He will be playing trombone as one of five members of his band making the trip.
The Lesbian and Gay Band Association performed in President Bill Clinton�s two inaugurations, but they were on the sidelines of the parade route providing pre-event entertainment. Clinton famously gave them a �thumbs-up� as they played �America the Beautiful� when he walked by in 1993.
This will be the first time the queer band group will be in the parade itself, and Casarona was pleasantly surprised.
�It�s pretty nice to feel included,� he said.
A news release from the Obama camp quoted the president-elect saying, �I am honored to invite these talented groups and individuals to participate in the Inaugural Parade. These organizations embody the best of our nation�s history, diversity, and commitment to service.�
Anti-gay backlash has been minor, with a few stories on religious right blogs and news sites, including one blogger who included an image of Obama�s head pasted onto a drag queen�s body.
In all, according to Casarona, 11 Ohio performers will be in the LGBA group.
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