• Grace Rivers


Baby, We Love You!

We all have our favorite Aretha Franklin songs. I suppose mine are Respect, Natural Woman and Baby, I Love You. The last song is the ringtone on my phone when my beloved wife calls me.

I was watching the news and the story was about Aretha passing and that she was the only one to sing at Obama's first inauguration. I started crying and I'm not sure why.

I remember crying at Obama's inauguration and I am more of a John Wayne type - not a crier generally. I had no crystal ball to predict what kind of president he would be. As an LGBT person, I hoped he would support LGBT people but had no way to know for sure.

But I cried because I thought - we finally did it! There were enough people in America who judged by the content of a person's character rather than the color of their skin. We finally realized Martin's dream. In my lifetime. In Aretha's lifetime. That after all the injustices that have been done to Aretha and all African Americans, they were able to see an African American elected president of the United States.

As for LGBT, Obama moved as he always does with thoughtful, methodical, step-by-step progress. Growing himself and then moving toward wherever that authenticity leads him to. I cried at his second inauguration where he said:

Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

The word "gay" was affirmatively spoken by the President during his inauguration. I'm not sure if that had ever been done before.

I know that we seem to be going backward right now with the person who currently occupies the White House. I am ashamed that police officers are continuing to assault, rape and kill black people. I am also affronted that anyone would take offense to a person taking a knee at a football game in protest of such actions.

I love football! I was a tomboy and played football for years with my brothers. I was the oldest, so of course, I was the quarterback - being the good lesbian I am. My brothers were my receivers. No one could cut, weave and fake better than my brother, Nick.

My dad was a white man, born and raised in Nashville, TN, who loved football. I watched the games with him all the time. But he also would have been appalled at the violence being done to African Americans and he would have understood their protests.

He would have understood that football, while a national institution, is a game. It is fun. It is awesome. But the spirit of football, the deep spirit of togetherness, of doing your best, of supporting something, of wholeness is profoundly violated by what is happening to African Americans. He would have understood the taking of the knee. He might of even taken a knee with them.

However, we do have some progress and whenever I think of Aretha again, I will think of that. It's sort of appropriate that she sang this at Obama's inauguration.

My country 'tis of thee Sweet land of liberty Of thee I sing Land where my fathers died Land of the pilgrim's pride From every mountainside Let freedom ring Let freedom ring Let it ring

Her music has filled our souls. When you listen to her songs, you can feel your soul being answered deep down. You feel more whole. She gave us beauty from her soul, a deep connection, a sense of belonging and peace, inspiring awe that someone could sing like that. Undeniable evidence of the benevolent spirit that created us.

I didn't intend for this writing to be political when I started but I guess it has become that. We need to honor Aretha by doing all we can to help continue what Obama worked on.


She sang her heart out when she performed and we need to do the same.

Aretha, we love you!

Sincerely with love and gratefulness to you and still crying as I finish this post.