This post was written by Janice Langbehn and originally appeared on her personal blog. Janice has worked with GLAAD since she was prevented from seeing her partner as she lay dying in the hospital after suffering from a brain aneurysm while on vacation in South Florida. She was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
The holidays are behind us. Danielle started her second quarter at EWU and is learning to adjust to the snow of Spokane. David just returned from a school sponsored trip to DC watching the second inauguration of President Obama. Katie is playing basketball and about to turn 16 and take her driving test (Yes, my 4th and final teen I taught to drive). Michael is hoping to move in with a more able-bodied roommate so they can do outings together. I am signed up to take the State Guardian Ad Litem program to expand on my volunteering CASA duties with Thurston County Superior Court.
I received an invitation from the White House, Office of Public Engagement to attend the inauguration of President Obama. Unlike David who planned his trip to DC for over a year, I only received 9 days notice – apparently after an oversight it was assumed, as a Presidential Citizen Medal recipient, I already received my invitation. Since I spent much of 2012, close to home and not engaged in public speaking, I didn’t want to ask for sponsorship from any of the LGBT groups. However, once I posted on FB that I received an invitation – and my step-sister Teresa said “you better get your ass there” others jumped on the band wagon. Airline miles were donated, a “chip-in” account was started for expenses and best of all – Tom Sullivan, who since its inception on the Health Care Quality Index at HRC, offered up his sofa bed. It seemed a hastily planned trip might be possible. And then, GLAAD’s (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Charlie Wells called and generously offered two round-trip vouchers on Southwest Airlines a corporate sponsor of GLAAD. I am blessed. I asked Katie to come with me but she didn’t want to miss school or more importantly basketball. So I asked Sarah Jane to come with me but she was just recovering from surgery and it didn’t seem like a wise idea. So I asked my crazy bare-foot running friend Christine to come along. I jokingly call Chris, “my straight ally who knows more gay people than me”.
Chris has never visited DC. What an adventure we had. Tom and his husband TJ were amazing hosts – feeding us great home cooked meals and driving us to Mt. Vernon and then to the Washington Mall. The guys also made sure we had our metro cards all ready for the big day so we could get down to the Capitol. We visited the Lincoln Memorial, and looked out at the mall were Martin Luther King Jr, gave his speech at the March on Washington 50 years ago. Then hearing the President call for full equality for the country’s “gay brothers and sisters”. It was a truly historic day with the Inaugural Address, the Poetry and the Benediction all call for full equality for all Americans. It was electric to be among the crowd of 1 Million people there to witness history.
I am grateful that this trip to DC allowed me to finally see places I have missed because of only being in town 2 days at most and being caught up in meetings – I am not complaining, it was pleasant to experience DC in a different way this time.
Thank you to Tom, TJ, Chris and all the individual donors on the Chip-In account that help pay for food and expenses. A huge thank you to Southwest Airlines and GLAAD for sponsoring my trip to DC and allowing Chris to come along to help me get physically get around with my MS.