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Interview: Members of Local Gay and Lesbian Band to March in Inauguration Parade

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Photo by SFBart via Flickr

For the first time in U.S. history, a marching band comprised of Americans identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer, will perform in the Presidential Inaugural Parade. Of the 177 musicians from twenty six states representing the Lesbian and Gay Bands Association (LGBA), four will represent Los Angeles.

In a statement released earlier this month, President-Elect Obama said of the variety of bands selected to perform tomorrow, "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." Members of the LGBA previously performed from the sidelines during President Clinton's inauguration, but this will mark the first performance in the formal parade. LAist talked to Mary Erikson, a local baritone player in the Great American Yankee (GAY) Freedom Band, before she headed to Washington D.C.

LAist: How did the opportunity arise to perform at Obama’s Presidential Inaugural Parade?

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Erikson: The Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA), which is an organization comprised of local marching bands around the US and around world, was one of ninety bands to be selected from a record number of applications to march in the parade. Individual selection for the LGBA's presence at the Inaugural Parade required registering online and clearing a background check with the Secret Service. The overwhelming number of people who attempted to register caused the computers to crash on the opening night of registration. The next morning, registration resumed and participants were asked to register by instrument. Eight baritone positions were allotted and I am very fortunate to have received one of those positions. Another member of the LA Great American Yankee Freedom Band will also be playing baritone, and two other members will be participating in the piccolo section.