Webster Groves Will Be Represented In President Obama's Inaugural Parade
Lawrence Miskel, who grew up in Webster Groves, is a member of the Lesbian and Gay Band Association. He says he's on "cloud nine" about witnessing history for the second time.
Webster Groves and the St. Louis area will be well-represented at Monday's inauguration as President Barack Obama begins a second term in the White House.
Local musicians will be performing in the parade as part of the national Lesbian and Gay Band Association including Lawrence Miskel, who grew up in Webster Groves, graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and is now a Human Resources Specialist for the city of St. Louis.
Patch asked him 6 questions about the upcoming trip and what being there means to him in this edited email interview:
Tell us about your Webster Groves roots and what you do now?
Miskel: I was born and raised in Germany because both my parents were in the U.S. Army and we lived on a military base. We came back to take root in St. Louis in May 1988 and I lived in Rock Hill and Webster Groves. During my high school years at Webster Groves H.S., I played in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band I & II, Pep Band, Marching Band, Solo & Ensemble Festival for two years, St. Louis All Suburban Band, and the St. Louis Community Music School Wind Ensemble directed by former Ladue H.W. HS band director, Jim Waechter. I graduated in 1997 and was the first student at Webster Groves to take a same-sex date to high school prom.
I sit on the board of Pride St. Louis and the International Public Management Association St. Louis Chapter currently. I've served as the board president of Gateway Men's Chorus, and as a board member of BandTogether.
I'm married to my husband, Matthew Ryan Barker, and we'll be celebrating ten years together in April. My 13 year-old son and husband will be accompanying me to DC to witness history.
How did you get involved with the Lesbian and Gay Band Association?
Miskel: I first became involved with the Lesbian and Gay Band Association when St. Louis hosted a conference in 2007. I soon became addicted to attending these conferences. I've also been to conferences in New York for the Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village in 2008 and New Orleans for a 2009 conference. I played piccolo in the 2009 Inaugural Parade.
How did the organization decide who will get to march in the parade?
Miskel: LGBA decided that people who pre-registered would get to march in the parade. The pre-registration process occurred about a month prior to the organization receiving notice of their invitation to perform. Currently, there are 215 participants marching with LGBA, ranging from instrumentalists, color guard participants, honor guard participants, drum majors, and banner holders.
What do you think about your playlist for the parade?
Miskel: I think the playlist is so apropos for LGBA. We'll be playing Tonight from “West Side Story,” Give Me Everything (Tonight) popularized by Latino American rapper Pitbull, Battle Hymn of the Republic/Simple Gifts and Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga. I believe each of these pieces speaks to the music, visibility, and pride that LGBA tries to espouse. We've been around for 30 years, and for the second time, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has invited LGBA to perform in the Inaugural Parade.
What are you looking forward to most about the trip?
Miskel: I'm looking forward to spending time with my fellow band mates in Washington D.C. to relive the historical experience that most of us enjoyed in 2009; but also to share this wonderful once-in-a-lifetime moment with my husband of ten years and our teenage son who has never been to an inauguration (and never been on an airplane for that matter).
Are you any less excited about this event, considering that the inauguration has been scaled back a little?
Miskel: Although the inaugural balls have been scaled down from ten to two, I'm no less excited about this inauguration than I was the previous one. It's also true that the parade is shorter than 2009, but this doesn't stop me from being completely overjoyed that I'm representing Webster Groves, St. Louis, MO, and the USA. I'm on cloud nine because it's not everyday one can march past the President on Pennsylvania Avenue and be proud to be part of a movement that's bigger than me. President Obama has made the LGBT community more included in society based on several measures: the repeal of DADT, marriage equality in three states in the past election, the defeat of a state anti-marriage amendment by the vote of the people, the non-defense of DOMA, and the President Obama's acknowledgement that same-sex couples should be able to wed legally.