In a historic first, on Sunday an openly gay Bishop and a gay men’s choir took part in the first of Barack Obama’s inauguration events.
Openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson gave a prayer at the opening inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.
The event kicked off the celebrations leading up to the president-elect’s swearing-in ceremony this week.
Speaking to the hundreds of thousands of people who gathered on the National Mall, Robinson asked God to “Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of colour, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.”
He further said: “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.”
Turning to the subject of Obama’s inauguration as president, Robinson prayed that “[Obama] 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.”
The event featured a number of performers such as U2, Mary J. Blige, Shakira, Usher, Stevie Wonder and Beyonce.
The concert also included Josh Groban and Heather Headley who sang along with the Washington DC Gay Men’s Chorus. The choir wore black suits with red ties and red aids ribbons.
When Obama himself addressed the crowd he said that his campaign for the presidency was based on “a belief that if we could just recognise 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.”
Over two million people are expected to congregate in Washington to watch Obama be sworn in to office on Tuesday. A parade will feature a band from the Lesbian and Gay Band Association, which was invited to participate.