It’s been an honor participating in the inauguration of Governor Jared Polis this past Tuesday, January 8th of this fresh new year 2019. What a beautifully refreshed beginning to another year here in stunning Colorado, a state that’s come a long way from previous legislative reputations such as the “Hate State” among LGBTQIA+ communities. Every moment of the day, from walking up to and entering Denver’s beautiful Capitol building to the execution of ceremonies outside its beautiful structure.
I had never been inside the Capitol building before this occasion, and was awestruck by the beautiful architecture and gilded gold fixtures, by the textiles and other art displayed (including being moved to remark on a larger-than-life portrait of Martin Luther King Jr hung prominently on the first floor level). Our holding room was on the second floor and I got to ascend up a glinting gold spiral staircase into a stately room that looked much like courtrooms on television or committee rooms on CNN. Beautiful Colorado paintings hung here as well, reminding of the rich mountain-scapes and rugged western roots that run deep here. It really made me feel like I was part of a history-making day in our great state.
Sound check was exciting, security officers and military band members milling about in the room just outside the Western doors, lots of equipment in the wings and alert capable folks making us feel very safe in the environment. In these times we live in, it can sometimes be frightful and worrisome to participate in large or prominent events after so many have been disrupted by violence all across the country in recent years. We shuffled outside, displaying our credentials passes on our bodies, and made our way down the steps to the stage area built up all along the western steps. Things were tight, the air cold that morning, lights and sound technicians working diligently as a row of cameras lined a platform opposite us.
We were allowed to watch the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus perform the selections that they’d prepared before our set, then it was our turn to grace the stage and perform our thoughtfully prepared pieces for the viewing area, the early guests, and all staff present. The piece “You Will Be Found” from the musical Dear Evan Hansen was chosen for its message of light in the darkness and perseverance despite hardship. The piece “Juntos” by Jim Papoulis is a selection from the upcoming Denver Women’s Chorus concert Nevertheless, We Persist: Singing our Stories for 35 Years. It is a largely Spanish song that includes the lyrics: “Together we are strong / Divided we fall / The power of together / Brings us higher.” It was chosen because of its unifying message and to celebrate the large Spanish speaking community we have here in Colorado.
Jared Polis’ platform theme has been “Colorado For All” and I feel that was truly encompassed in the ceremonies surrounding the swearing in of officers of State government, including and up to the office of Governor. I saw service people of many different ethnic backgrounds presenting the colors, our many flags for state and country, in reverence and beauty along the stage. A unifying prayer by a Christian reverend, a unifying prayer by a Sikh leader, another prayer from a Ute leader, and a beautiful poem opened a monumental moment in history, the swearing in of Governor Jared Polis.
The Denver Gay Men’s Chorus, their small ensemble Off Kilter! and the Denver Women’s Chorus by way of ensemble Take Note! want to thank everyone involved for the opportunity to gracefully and enthusiastically celebrate with song on this day, and the start of a new governing relationship with our State representation and our elected Governor Polis. I was honored to stand on that stage, to use my voice for positivity and good, with those around me, and to be proud of the continuing steps our state is making toward equality, health, and well being for all in Colorado and in our nation and the growing world.
Denver Gay Men´s Chorus under the direction of James Knapp featuring Off Kilter Acapella Group.
Take Note! Acapella group directed by Alison Dozier
Written by Denver Women´s Chorus and Take Note! member V McDougall