Elen Lauper accepts media award for sister Cyndi; live auctions bring in $100,000 on Friday, Saturday nights
Organizers of the Dallas Black Tie Dinner, under the direction of co-chairs Laurie Foley and Ron Guillard, last weekend staged what many have described as the best Black Tie Dinner since Ann Richards’ final appearance at the event in 2003.
Foley and Guillard welcomed the near-capacity crowd and then, in a break from tradition, introduced HRC President Joe Solmonese before the meal.
Solmonese spoke of the progress the LGBT community has made, but then reminded the audience of the work yet to be done.
But the highlight of the evening was the rousing speech by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose early placement in the program was another break in the dinner’s traditional schedule.
Introduced by former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller, Newsom told how listening to former President George W. Bush focus during a State of the Union speech on topics such as a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage prompted him to become such an outspoken advocate of marriage equality for gays and lesbians.
Newsom made history in early 2004 when he directed the San Francisco City/County Clerk to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a voter-approved referendum limiting legal marriage in California to opposite-sex couples.
Black Tie board member John Shore explained later that the keynote address was moved up in the program based on attendee feedback from the 2008 event. Shore said the move garnered “especially favorable reactions and comments.”
Teary-eyed Steve Atkinson accepted the Kuchling Humanitarian Award, saying that his love for the LGBT community was surpassed only by his love for his husband, Ted Kincaid, and his family.
Joking about his propensity for long speeches, Atkinson held to his promise to keep his acceptance speech short, ending with a declaration of his devotion to Kincaid, saying, “I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Former HRC President Elizabeth Birch, attending the Dallas Black Tie Dinner for the first time since she received the dinner’s Equality Award, presented that award — now renamed in her honor, to Judy Shepard.
Shepard, the mother of anti-gay hate crime victim Matthew Shepard and founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, spoke with conviction about loving our children, protecting our families, and the true source of her strength: “This is what happens when you piss off someone’s mother,” she said to a standing ovation.
Singer/songwriter/activist Cyndi Lauper was slated to attend the dinner to accept the 2009 Media Award. A family matter forced her to cancel at the last minute, but her openly-lesbian sister, Elen Lauper, was on hand to accept the award on her sister’s behalf.
Elen Lauper also played her sister’s hit song, “True Colors,” on guitar, as guest entertainer Jason Walker sang the lyrics. Cyndi Lauper did address the gathering via a videotaped acceptance speech.
Tom Delancey won the drawing for a 2010 Mercedes Benz GLK 350 SUV, donated by Park Place Motors. The live auction on Saturday night, conducted by Victoria Gutierrez, combined with a live auction held at the B4 Black Party the previous evening brought in more than $100,000.
Shore called the total “really exciting in view of the economy.” He said that during the Saturday night auction, the highest bid was $20,000 for the “Bon Appetite HRC DFW Federal Club package.”
Although the final tally won’t be announced until the check distribution party on Dec. 3, Shore said dinner organizers expect this year’s total “to meet our planned revenue.”
Foley and Guillard said the 2010 Black Tie Dinner will be held Nov. 6 at the Sheraton Dallas, and Shore encouraged community members to get involved early in the planning.
“Consider giving your time, being a table captain, a sponsor,” Shore said. “There are a number of ways to help Black Tie Dinner raise funds. Buy a raffle ticket, place an ad in the dinner journal, help all year long. We value our partners in the community. The real star of the evening is the North Texas community.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 9, 2009.