Monday, January 19, 2009

Barack's Inauguration: For the Record, I'm Thrilled

I finally realized why I've been - sometimes, though not all the time - a buzzkill when it comes to Obama: I don't know what it's like to like our President.

When I started this blog back in the summer of 2006, I was fed up with the Bush administration's assault on the American identity. Under W the message was clear: America for white, Evangelical Christians - the rest of you can shut up or go to Gitmo. That our economy would tank towards the end of his watch was the icing on the cake following attempts on civil rights and the propagation of a war that so far has done nothing to contain unrest in the Middle East and Afghanistan nor has it produced Osama bin Laden. Remember him? So it seemed as the content would just write itself - so long as W and the Christian right kept swinging, so too would I have something to say.

Then along came Barack Obama and instantly, the world was aflutter. By all accounts, history had a bookend to the nightmare of the past eight years and the sooner we gave control to the unknown Senator from Illinois the sooner civilization would be redeemed. Not being one to believe in happy endings I refused to jump on the bandwagon - experience had to trump personality, right? And I took issue with the praise lavished on our new President's eloquence - it's great that he excels at oratory, but did it not seem the least bit ironic that his middle name is Hussein? It started to seem as if Obama wielded too much power, even as a candidate, so I got to thinking that maybe he was the Antichrist.

In the end, however, personality and a masterful use of social media made the political process real for millions of otherwise disenchanted Americans. And on election night, yours truly was awash in tears because, dammit, I was happy to see a person of color do what I never even dreamed of. From niggers and spics to Mr. President - that's something to marvel at and applaud.

And then, for me, all hell broke loose with the appointment of Rick Warren to lead the invocation at our new President's inauguration. How can a person who staunchly supported a measure to ban gay marriage and hurl an entire group of citizens back into obscurity (perhaps "the long night of captivity" that Dr. King spoke about?) form any part in a celebration of unity and inclusion? How could Barack do that to the people who supported him so fervently? (Trust me, I got into many a row with ultra-liberal gays who were aghast that I hadn't contracted Obama-mania)

That gesture turned me off to Obama once again - I felt cheated and homeboy wasn't even in power yet. I felt like calling up the gays who were all Obama-ed out to say "now what?"

But with the celebration of our new President's inauguration swelling up around us it seems that the gays are giving Obama a free pass (smart move, Mr. President, throwing Beyonce in front of the gays usually shuts them up) why shouldn't I?

So, my fellow Americans and friends around the world, I join you in the celebration of this historic inauguration. I celebrate as an American who is thrilled to see government turn a new corner with an eye toward inclusion and fairness; I celebrate as a Latino who sees a fellow brown brother achieve the impossible; and I celebrate as a gay man because we finally have a candidate who paid attention to us and who now has to make good on his promises to our community.

I am looking forward to the next four years and I hope you are, too.

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