Last night a few hundred thousand of my closest friends and I converged on a park in downtown chicago to eat slices of incredibly overpriced pizza, see CNN results on a jumbotron and listen to overly loud music piped in over speakers. My little group of four (a splinter of the original eight) found a small hill at the back of the park so that we wouldn’t have to stand in the packed out crowd for 4+ hours. Around me there were people of all ages and races, probably one of the most diverse crowds I have ever been a part of. Cheering after every state went blue on CNN, the crowd was excited, loud, but also respectful. Of course the real event started at 10pm, when the race was called (2 hours earlier than my highest hopes) for Barack Obama.
I have to admit at that moment I got a teary eyed, for the first time (in my relatively short life) I was watching the beginnings of a presidency that not only inspires and excites me, but I think holds the potential to heal a few of the rifts within both America and the global community. Around an hour later Obama and his family finally came out on stage and I watched those tiny figures as they smiled and waved to the crowd and I realized what a huge responsibility must have settled on those shoulders. And then I listened to an incredible speech, which more then once sent shivers down my spine that we as a country have such an eloquent, compassionate, forward thinking leader.
So yes I am very glad to have been there last night; to have stood in crowd lines waiting for checkpoints, metal detectors and bathrooms; to have been a part of a crowd larger then the population of Alaska, to have seen the next president (even if he was only a tiny little dot on a far away stage); to have listened to a voicemail from my parents informing me that Indiana was by most accounts going to go blue after almost 40 years of red; to have joined the huge mass of people who emptied out of the park and made our way to the CTA (which ran smoother than I have seen it run on nights where it is not transporting a quarter of a million people).
But a post about last night would not be complete with the huge disapointment that, according to CNN, it looks very likely that Proposition 8 will pass in California, which will once again take away the right of people to marry the people they love. Also another large disappoint were several other ballot measures that banned gay marraige and even in one state took away the right of non-married individuals to adopt children. But like Obama said last night, if 106 years ago a black woman could not vote for multiple reasons and today our country elected a black man as president; then I do have hope that in another 100 years (and hopefully far sooner) this country will treat its citizens equally regardless of sexual orientation or gender.