Arriving in Washington D.C. one day prior to the presidential inauguration, I could feel the anticipation and see the preparation for the big day. The excitement was contagious. The streets buzzing with energy seemed in alignment with the historic event that was about to take place.
The next morning my girlfriend and I arrived early as we had been advised by everyone we spoke with prior. As we walked toward the White House, we were met with swarms of people decked out in Obama gear who indicated to us that we had not arrived early enough. Pushing our way through to the entrance gate, it felt like a summer music festival – except here the headliner was the president of the United States.
After about an hour, we finally made it through and stood in awe of the surreal sight in front of us. The stage was officially set up and looked exactly as one might picture it to.
Obama began his speech as presidents of the past have – swearing the vows of presidency – but what came uniquely from his speech were the hopeful words of action and movement forward.
He discussed many issues, but one that was truly historic was his support of gay rights. Obama summed up the issue quite eloquently by saying, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
People always say that admitting to the problem is the first and most important step toward fixing it. Obama acknowledged that obtaining equal rights for gay citizens in America is a situation that not only needs to be recognized, but also fixed. This proclamation alone is a beam of hope to us in the gay community.
Regardless of whether people like Obama or not, they have to admit that he has taken some giant first steps for gay civil rights that no other U.S. president to date has made.
Obama, being a minority himself, publicly declared: “that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.”
When the president is telling America that gays deserve to be treated equally, it normalizes us to be just people – like everyone else. Influential leaders have the ability to create large changes in the world, and it feels like we finally have someone in power on our side.
I am excited and hopeful to see how his speech translates into action furthering LGBTQ rights across the country in the upcoming four years.