UPDATED: This was supposed to be the Inauguration’s make-up moment to gays and lesbians everywhere for the inclusion of the vile and reprehensible homophobe Rick Warren: Bishop Gene Robinson, an openly-gay Episcopalian minister kicking off the week with an invocation on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. And while he did lead a prayer (read it below), you’d never know it unless you were standing with the thousands at the Reflecting Pool in D.C.
HBO cut Robinson’s prayer from their coverage of “We Are One: The Inaugural Concert” and attendees at the event said that the sound on Robinson’s prayer cut out at one point. HBO’s response was to say that Robinson was part of the “pre-show” and blame Inauguration organizers, who determined the on-air vs pre-show show schedule. A spokesperson from HBO told AfterElton:
“The producer of the concert has said that the Presidential Inaugural Committee made the decision to keep the invocation as part of the pre-show.”
Here is Robinson’s prayer:
There’s no easy way to say this: We were hoodwinked. Cynics will say, “Well, what did you expect?”, but the answer is, “We expected more.” The concert itself was inspiring, hopeful and a media event, but the exclusion of Robinson once again highlights the reality that gays and lesbians sit at the back of the American political bus.
Perhaps the most infuriating moment of the event was when Queen Latifah told the story of Marian Anderson, a black singer who was barred from performing at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution and who was subsequently invited to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by Eleanor Roosevelt, who resigned her D.A.R membership in protest.
As soon as this story was told, Josh Groban and Heather Headley performed “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” backed by the D.C. Gay Men’s Chorus, in what was clear meant to be a bit of historical symmetry. However, the only way you’d know that the men singing were gay is by the AIDS ribbons pinned to their chests. Sure, none of the choruses that performed were chyroned, but here was a great symbolic moment that was coded so that only people already aware of its symbolism would get it.
Watch the D.C. Men’s Chorus sing with Josh Groban and Heathe Headley:
It’s the height of irony that, in a concert so focused on freedom’s promise of civil rights and equality for all, that gays and lesbians were sidelined.
The only saving grace was the President-Elect himself, who mentioned the gay community in his address:
“…As I stand here tonight, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you – Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there. It is the same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago; a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; Latino, Asian, and Native American; black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not – then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.”
Watch it here:
Is it enough? Was this all just a big mix-up? Does HBO owe us an explanation? What are your feelings about the Inauguration as both a gay person and as an American?
EARLIER: Queerty’s live updates of the concert:
Follow Queerty on Twitter as Barack Obama begins his inauguration with a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and an invocation by openly-gay bishop V. Gene Robinson. You can watch the concert on HBO (no subscription required) or online here, but they left out Bishop Robinson’s Invocation, which we include after our updates. Click for Queerty’s live-Twitter:
Live Updates from the ‘We Are One’ concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire
Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009
Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.
O God of our many understandings, we pray that you willâ€¦
Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.
Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.
Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.
Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.
Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.
Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.
And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.
Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.
Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.
Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.
Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.
Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.
Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.
And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.