Did anyone watch the Inaugural Concert today?
Garth Brooks performed 3 songs. One of them is a favorite country song of mine, We Shall Be Free.
Here is a youtube video of the original song, “We Shall Be Free”:
It's a favorite of mine because it includes references, in poetic terms, to many of my pet issues: environmentalism, racism, religious intolerance, and especially homophobia.
So when Garth started performing that one, my ears perked up and I was excited.
Imagine my disappointment when I didn't hear the lines that I memorized years ago…they were conspicuously missing:
When we're free to love anyone we choose
When this worlds big enough for all different views
When we all can worship from our own kind of pew
Then we shall be free.
I couldn't believe it…I rewound the DVR and played it again…sure enough, the song, which Garth has performed unabridged all over the US, including such intolerant places such as Oklahoma and Texas, was suddenly missing the more risky lines referencing homophobia and religious intolerance.
Is Gay the new Black?
Earlier in the concert, Queen Latifah came out and gave an introduction. She started:
This afternoon we are celebrating not just the inauguration of a new President, but the ongoing journey of America to be America.
She went on to explain how for decades, those looking for the spirit of America would gather at the Lincoln Memorial, and how Marian Anderson, an African-American singer who was denied permission to sing at Washington's Constitution Hall, later sang to a huge crowd at the Lincoln Memorial. We were shown a 1939 video of Marion Anderson singing “America”.
We then cut back to the stage, where two singers, backed by The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, also sang “America”.
I had to wonder what the meaning of that was? That African-Americans had to “go to the back of the bus” at that time, and now gays have to do the same? I don't know, there wasn't any actual mention of gays, lesbians, or anything like that, but it seemed to be some point that some of us were meant to get.
Don't get me wrong, I know that the Lincoln Memorial isn't “the back of the bus”, but again, a group struggling for equality is forced to perform at a secondary event, instead of the “main event.”
I am becoming more and more convinced that the Obama administration's vision of equality in America doesn't fully include the GLBT crowd. I hope they prove me wrong.