Pride of Indy goes to Washington 

Members from the Pride of Indy, Indiana's only GLBT band and color guard, will be heading to Washington, D.C., this week to make history.

President-elect Barack Obama announced that from the nearly 1,400 organizations that applied, the Lesbian and Gay Band Association was among the few chosen to be part of the Inaugural Parade next Tuesday.

"I am honored to invite these talented groups and individuals to participate in the Inaugural Parade," Obama said in a released statement. "These organizations embody the best of our nation's history, diversity and commitment to service. Vice President-elect Biden and I are proud to have them join us in the parade."

John Joanette, community liaison for the Pride of Indy, was impressed and grateful for the organization's inclusion in the parade.

"Out of the hundreds of groups asked to participate, they narrowed it down to a few dozen total, so this is very much an honor," he said.

The announcement marks the first time any GLBT organization has taken part in the inaugural march, but not the first time such an organization has taken part in the inauguration as a whole. The LGBA was also the first, performing in the actual inaugural ceremonies 16 years ago.

The LGBA concert band was invited by former President Bill Clinton to play back in 1993, where he reportedly gave them the "thumbs-up" during their rendition of "America the Beautiful." Clinton was so pleased that he invited them back to play again at his second inauguration in 1997.

Formed in 1982, LGBA has become an international organization of bands from across the country as well as Canada and Australia.

The Pride of Indy is a relatively new organization that started up in March of 2005. They have grown to 50 members and perform locally, around the state and also beyond Indiana. Now, with this announcement, in just four years they have gone from a small local organization to performing on a national stage.

Joanette remembers hearing the news that members from the very organization he was a part of would be traveling to Washington.

"It was amazing. This is historic on many levels. Inclusiveness was what Obama said he was about, now it has been put in action. We were hopeful that because of Obama's very vocal support of the LGBT community before and during the campaign, that this would be a watershed moment, which it is."

Eleven local members will be heading to Washington to be part of the 177-member marching band and color guard. They include Laura Blake, Ray English, Adrian Hartsough, Dan Johnson, Eric Munsch, Joel Ray, Bryan Sirtosky, Lori Stone Sirtosky, Shelly Snider, Bob Stuper, and Travis Tester.

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