Among the millions who made the trek to Washington, D.C., to witness President Barack Obama's historic Jan. 20 inauguration were many individuals from the new leader's home city, Chicago.
LGBTA individuals made up a sizeable part of the Windy City contingent, as they stood in the cold to see the swearing-in—and then danced until dawn at different galas, although it seemed that most people went to the Home States Ball, which welcomed guests from Hawaii and Illinois. In fact, one lesbian, Vernita Gray, text-messaged Windy City Times at 1 a.m. to say that she was "still partying" at that particular gala.
Pictured: People of all ages, races, and sexual orientations joined together to celebrate the historic inauguration of Barack Obama. Photos here are from the cold outdoor event and later that night. Bottom pic: Mona Noriega, Vernita Gray, Renae Ogletree, Mary Morten and Laura McAlpine, all from Chicago, at the Home States Ball. Photos courtesy Brenda Schumacher and Richard Streetman. Pat McCombs, Tarrina Dykes and other Chicagoans get their picture with an Obama cut-out figure. Photo courtesy Pat McCombs. Lakeview resident Greg Koeppen attended the Home States Ball, where he posed with Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias ( top ) and out designer Nate Berkus. Photos courtesy of Koeppen. Chicagoans Alicia Eler and Brenda Schumacher with photographer Amy Moseley, one of the Gay Games Chicago photographers, who lives in D.C. More HRC gala photos by Amy Moseley at www.windycitymediagroup.com/photos/INAUGURATION-HRCgala-Moseley
Although the crowds were huge on Inauguration Day in D.C., events and people proceeded in orderly fashion. However, there was no denying the energy. Dick Uyvari, a gay Chicagoan, e-mailed that " [ i ] t was an exhilarating experience. The positive energy of the crowd was infectious. There were Black, white, brown and all colors in between; young, old and not-so-old; women, men and children; and lesbian, gay, bi and straight. We were all as one—full of hope and joy that this day "at last" had come along. People, cheered, sang, danced, cried, laughed and enjoyed themselves completely, despite the cold 26-degree weather."
Calling upon history, Uyvari added that he "had not seen this type of euphoria since the days of JFK in 1961-63, when I was in my late teens. [ Jan. 20 ] was an overwhelming experience that is hard to put in words. I felt honored and privileged to have been there. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, to be cherished and never forgotten."
Political activist Mike Bauer said that " [ b ] eing present at Barack Obama's swearing-in turned out to be surprisingly emotional for me. To see him take the oath of office as the 44th president of the United States, combined with watching the helicopter carry off George Bush, created this incredible feeling that our long nightmare of the past eight years was finally over."
Lakeview resident Greg Koeppen added that " [ a ] s we stood 30 feet from the president and first lady at the Home State's Ball during their first dance, I couldn't help but think this is the man who will lead us to that next level. Not only is this an exciting time for those of us from Illinois, but for people around the World. His message was clear as we watched him deliver his speech. The United States is and always will be number one. This past week in D.C. was an amazing experience for me and those I attended with."
And for those who wanted change, it happened quickly. On Jan. 20, the new administration swiftly revamped the White House Web site, www.WhiteHouse.gov—including a section that addresses the civil-rights agenda. A part of said section focuses on LGBT individuals and what Obama has done and what he plans to do, such as expanding hate-crimes laws; opposing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage; promoting HIV/AIDS prevention; and combatting workplace discrimination.
For more on the White House Web site and its section on the LGBT community, see www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com .