Two miles of cheers

Posted in Gay rights, Politics at 4:56 pm by ducky

Watching the inauguration today, I couldn’t help but be reminded of gay pride parades.

There are very few mass events where everybody is really happy.  Most large gatherings are sporting events, and there is almost always an undercurrent of hostility somewhere.  If nothing else, the losing team’s fans are unhappy — usually.  (I went to the 1994 Men’s World Cup match between the US and Brazil.  Everybody knew that the Brazilians were way better than the USA, so in this case, the losers didn’t care that they were losing.  Furthermore, it was the Brazilians!  Their spirit of joy and fun was infectious.)

Maybe rock concerts are also places of fun sometimes, but I never had much fun at rock concerts.   The band was always too far away to see and yet too loud.

The C-SPAN feed of the inauguration didn’t have any commentary, but instead just broadcast the ambient noise of the crowd.  For two miles, almost all you could hear was people screaming their heads off as the motorcade (and microphone) moved down the route.

Ten years ago, when I marched in the SF Pride Parade with PFLAG, I experienced two miles of people cheering their hearts out.  The straight public was not as accepting of gay and lesbian people back then, and thus (I guess) it meant a lot to see straight people standing up for gay rights.  So they cheered.

In recent years, the cheers for PFLAG have been polite, but not overwhelming like before.  That’s a good thing — that means that public acceptance is greater, so PFLAG isn’t as needed.  The cheers for PFLAG were a reflection of how bad things were elsewhere, and how PFLAG represented a beacon of hope.  It is a very good sign that the cheers for PFLAG are tamer now.

Similarly, the cheers for Obama reflected how bad things were.  It would not have been so moving for African-Americans if African-Americans had not faced such brutal ill-treatment in the US.  It would not have been so moving for me, a white person, if I had thought that G. W. Bush had done a competent job.

I hope that at the inauguration of the next non-white president, the crowds are much smaller and tamer.

Postscript: Apparently there were exactly zero arrests at the inauguration.  I once asked a cop at the SF Pride Parade what it was like to work the parade.  His answer: “Four hundred thousand people, no arrests, no injuries, what’s not to like?”  (I had just gotten off of my shift as a Safety Monitor, and had first-hand knowledge that “no injuries” was a sligh exaggeration, but the injuries were all very mild — e.g. people skinning their knees, not e.g. getting beaten, hit by cars, falling 30 feet, etc.)

1 Comment

  1. spacemika said,

    January 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    So, the inauguration was classified as an Emergency before it even started. It was the first time in US history that a State of Emergency was declared pre-emptively, and it was the first time that a presidential inauguration was classified as an Emergency.

    (I got it via the Natural Hazards newsletter)