Live From Chicago: President Elect Barack Obama!
It's hard to describe the feeling at Grant Park, Chicago tonight as, projection by project, State by State, hundreds of thousands of people watched CNN project Barack Obama's ascension to be the 44th President of the United States of America. It's hard to describe, but then, most of you know that, having just seen and been a part of the nation that just collectively experienced catharsis.
One friend likened it to the falling of the Berlin Wall. Another to a flood-lit rock concert. No one likened it to an appearance that Pope John Paul II made here in the same park some years ago to a significantly smaller group of fervent believers.
Whatever it can be likened to, Grant Park was filled beyond capacity tonight with folks standing shoulder to shoulder in the unseasonably warm evening. No pushing, no flared tempers, no messy drunks, and virtually no grumbling about the 3 or 4 extensive security checkpoints we had to pass.
As 40 dollar (or so rumor had it had) concession stand pizzas periodically crowd-surfed overhead, this travel writer was reminded that Grant Park is also a fab, breezy lakeside picnic spot!
Streaming out into downtown Chicago afterward, dazed amidst skyscrapers lit up like American flags and spelling U.S.A., throngs of my-dream-just-came-true supporters meandered slowly to get something to eat or have a drink, some just to sit down and some to digest by reliving every minute.
Much like after a good Pride Parade in New York or San Francisco, however, no one moved quickly -- everyone just wanted to bask in the crowd's cathartic aftermath. Eventually, the gay boys headed up to Lakeview, or Boystown, Chicago's gayborhood and the girls to Andersonville, the more lesbian neighborhood nearby.
If the feeling of progress and hope pervading Chicago tonight stands for what America wants to become, then queer icon Jack Kerouac may have said it best:
"And I swore I'd be in Chicago tomorrow, and made sure of that, taking a bus to Chicago, spending most of my money, and didn't give a damn, just as long as I'd be in Chicago tomorrow."