1/18/2009

Right Reverend, Wrong!

HBO Family logoImage via WikipediaYesterday afternoon I searched in vain for the Inauguration concert that was supposed to be televised on HBO as a free broadcast. Going to the HBO channel on my local Comcast cable network I was met with a notice telling me I'd have to subscribe in order to see the "free" broadcast of this historic event.

My attempts to get an answer from Comcast about the situation has, thus far, gotten no response. That's not entirely surprising for a company whose customer service has often fallen far short of the mark in my experience.

So, imagine my surprise when I find that even had I been able to get the broadcast I would not have been able to see the portion I found most interesting. HBO, for some reason, decided that Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer was not suitable for broadcast.

Yes, HBO actually cut Bishop Robinson's prayer from the broadcast! They have given no explanation for their decision not to air what was supposed to be the olive branch extended to the LGBT community due to Rick Warren being given center stage on Tuesday.

Can we expect Rev. Warren's prayer to be sliced from network coverage of the inauguration as well? It's highly doubtful since the inauguration itself will be carried by all the networks while yesterday's event was auctioned off to the highest bidder and HBO won.

So, we'll all get hear Warren's words while Bishop Robinson was not only silenced by HBO but according to Crooks and Liars, had his microphone inactivated so that most of the atendees present could not hear him either.

The Queer world is up in arms, and rightly so:

Queerty: There's no easy way to say this: We were hoodwinked. Cynics will say, "Well, what did you expect?", but the answer is, "We expected more." The concert itself was inspiring, hopeful and a media event, but the exclusion of Robinson once again highlights the reality that gays and lesbians sit at the back of the American political bus.

Queers United: Openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson gave the invocation prayer at the kick-off for the inauguration. It is a historic moment for the LGBT community, one that many of us tuned in to see. HBO aired all the actors, musicians, and comedians, but failed to air Bishop Robinson's prayer. Demand to know why.

Joe.My.God: After days of controversy and outrage from the religious right, openly gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson opened Barack Obama's inauguration concert on the National Mall today with a request that the nation pray for "understanding that our president is a human being and not a messiah." But only the people AT the concert heard that, because HBO did not televise Robinson's message. Who engineered this blackout of Robinson? I suspect we'll hear lots about this in days to come.

Pam's House Blend: Remember, this was the supposed salve on the wound to the LGBT community for the upcoming high-profile appearance of Rick Warren at the actual inauguration on Tuesday, which will be seen by millions and will float out there on YouTube in perpetuity. I had no illusions that Robinson's appearance would reach the same level of exposure as Warren's, but damn -- no broadcast of it at all?

Gayrights.change.org: You know how on Election night, we were all kind of happy (no more Bush!) and sad (Proposition 8) at the same time? Well, it's kind of like that again. A new beginning, yes, but more of the same exclusion that really tarnishes what should have been a day full of optimism.

The Tucson Observer: But today, the only ones to hear Rev. Robinson’s prayer were those thousands who were present at the mall. Robinson’s prayer wasn’t aired live, nor was it aired during the 7:00 p.m. rebroadcast. And guess what else was shoved into the closet? The D.C. Gay Men’s Chorus singing with Josh Groban. Unlike every other performer, they came and went without being identified. These snubs are inexcusable. Did HBO cave in the face of conservative outcries over Rev. Robinson’s selection for this event?

Thanks to the Gay Rights blog at Change.org we do have the text of the Rt. Rev. Robinson's prayer:

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama

(By Bishop V. Gene Robinson, courtesy of the New Hampshire Episcopal Church Web site. Bold phrases below are part of the original text.)

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.

AMEN.

Well, at least we know the Revolution will not be televised or at least the parts of it that don't include singing and dancing.

Bruce Springsteen - check.
Beyonce - check.
Pete Seeger - check.
U2 and Bono - check.
Stevie Wonder - check.
Jonas Brothers - check.
Garth Brooks - check.
Tiger Woods - check.
Faggot Preacher - uh, maybe not.

Hell, at least Marian Anderson got to sing at the Lincoln Memorial and got filmed doing it. We can't even get a gay minister on TV there with a functioning microphone!


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