PHOTOS AND VIDEO: Black Tie draws 3,000, raises over $1 million

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, addresses the crowd of 3,000 during what was his first Black Tie Dinner on Saturday at the Sheraton Dallas. (Chuck Marcelo/Dallas Voice)

SLIDESHOW: CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM BLACK TIE

ANNA WAUGH  |  Staff Writer

Heartfelt stories of progress and hope at Saturday’s 31st Black Tie Dinner reminded the audience that while the LGBT community has accomplished so much, there is still more to achieve.

The sold-out event brought together about 3,000 in the community to raise money for the Human Rights Campaign and 18 local beneficiaries.

Chris Kouvelis, BTD co-chair, said Monday that more than $1 million was raised from the event. The total will be announced at the distribution party Dec. 13. He said the location of the party hasn’t been decided yet.

One of the most touching moments of the evening was when HRC President Chad Griffin mentioned 19-year-old Alice he met back in June on his first day as HRC president. The teen, who was Griffin’s guest at Black Tie on Saturday, drove two hours to the event in Little Rock, Ark., and asked him what he would do for people like her. Alice, as the teen goes by, lives in a small town with religious parents and is afraid to tell them she is a lesbian. Griffin said he could only guarantee Alice that the organization would fight to end hate and encourage acceptance in all states.

“The only thing I had to offer was a promise. A promise that HRC will keep fighting everyday until equality reaches every single person in every single corner of this vast country,” Griffin said.

Griffin said even after the LGBT community tips the balance in favor of President Barack Obama and lesbian Senate hopeful Tammy Baldwin on Tuesday, “there will still be people like Alice out there just trying to find a welcoming place to call home.” He said HRC will continue to fight battles for young people to provide a future “they deserve to inherit.”

Chaz Bono, who received the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, shared his coming out stories that both took place under the national spotlight, first when he came out as a lesbian and then later when he came out as trans. He said people needed to remember the T more when they think of LGBT, and he encouraged BTD to make a trans organization a beneficiary in the coming years.

Lesbian actress Meredith Baxter then addressed the audience as the keynote speaker. She highlighted the importance of her coming out three years ago on The Today Show. She said even with all her success as an actress, it wasn’t until she came out that she felt entitled to her success for being true to who she was.

“I could never have foreseen how transforming and how rewarding that my personal and public revelation was going to be,” she said.

Baxter mentioned the compelling story of Timothy Kurek, a straight man who spent a year living as a gay man in order to find empathy for his lesbian friend. She encouraged others to continue to be visible and tell their stories in order to continue the fight for equality nationwide.

“Not one thing changed in America until we chose to be visible to come out honestly to our friends and family and co-workers,” she said. “Just to be known. Just to be ourselves.”

Watch videos of the speakers below.

—  Dallasvoice

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Yes, we know this is Black Tie Dinner weekend, but if you don’t have tickets by now, you’ve got other stuff to keep you busy — some of it quite great.

First, you can get a taste of Black Tie for the B4 Preview Party Friday night at the Sheraton, a little sneak peak of the auction items. Then on Saturday you have two chances to see Jaston Williams (of Greater Tuna fame) performing his one-man show about growing up in the Panhandle, Cooking with Gasoline, pictured, at Casa Manana. You also only have a few more changes to see Lyric Stage‘s production of 1776. It’s not a perfect musical by any means, but the cast is strong and nothing will get you excited about voting more than a patriotic musical. You have a little longer to see The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity from Dallas Theater Center. Hot guys in Speedos and a smart dissection of consumer culture? I was sold.

Also on Saturday, you can go to the 500 Inc.’s 10th annual WineFest in Addison. (We’re even giving away free tickets!)

If you prefer staying in on a Friday night, Lily Tomlin returns to sitcomdom with Malibu Country tonight on ABC.

On Election Eve, Mama’s Party returns for a fundraiser in Grand Prairie with Amy Stevenson hosting as always and local vocal luminaries performing. Expect a lot of tributes to the late Buddy Shanahan — the local pianist died Sunday; a memorial service will be held for his friends at the Cathedral of Hope on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. For a different kind of music on Monday, you can instead see Liz Mikel play Blue (Room) at South Side on Lamar with her show about sex and women. Oh, lord!

Many of us will be glued to the TV watching election returns on Tuesday, but if you need some other distraction, consider seeing Oral Fixation, the storytelling series, at The MAC.

And finally, although Stephan Pyles’ newest restaurant Stampede 66 hasn’t officially opened yet, it’s due and day now, and until then, you can check out pictures of the interior here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Bravo’s Madison Hildebrand to MC BTD’s ‘B4 Black’

You may think the Black Tie Dinner takes place on Saturday, but it has always begun with a discrete preview reception the night before, where folks can show up to check out the auction items and enjoy a little libation. Well, this year, BTD is making a bigger deal out of the preview, bringing in reality TV star Madison Hildebrand to M.C.

Hildebrand, one of the handsome gay Realtors on the Bravo reality series Million Dollar Listing, will host B4 Black, the preview party held at the Sheraton on Friday before BTD.  He’ll be there, in part, to encourage attendees to buy raffle tickets for a 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe; the winning ticket will be pulled at the dinner on Saturday, Nov. 3.

B4 Black takes place from 8 to 10 p.m. on Nov. 2.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Meredith Baxter to keynote Black Tie

Meredith Baxter

Lesbian actress and producer Meredith Baxter — perhaps best known as Elyse Keaton from Family Ties — will keynote this year’s Black Tie Dinner, organizers said Thursday, Sept. 6.

Baxter, 65, an advocate for women’s and human rights and breast cancer research, came out in 2009 on The Today Show. She signed with Broadway Books to write a memoir of her personal and professional life, Untied, which was published in 2011. On a local note, Baxter also recently narrated the documentary film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge.

“Meredith Baxter is a champion of women’s rights and devotes much of her time speaking out on issues about which she is passionate,” BTD co-chair Chris Kouvelis said. “Her life experiences reflect our theme for this year’s dinner: ‘Affair of the Heart.’ Every cause that Meredith involves herself with is an affair of her heart in every way.”

Noted for her accessible portrayals of intelligent, independent women who struggle with the challenges before them, Baxter achieved early success with a string of TV hits, including the CBS sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie; the critically acclaimed ABC drama Family, for which she received an Emmy nomination; and the perennially popular Family Ties. Following Family Ties, Baxter made a seamless transition to drama, quickly establishing herself as one of the most sought-after actors for TV movies. In 1991, she received an Emmy nomination for her performance as the lead character in A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story. In 1994, she garnered a Daytime Emmy nomination for her role as a lesbian mother raising a young son in the CBS After School Special, Other Mothers. She also received a special award for public awareness from the National Breast Cancer Coalition for her work on the television film, My Breast (1994), a black comedy about the true story of journalist Joyce Wadler’s successful battle with breast cancer.

“In many respects, Meredith Baxter is America’s favorite mom,” BTD co-chair Mitzi Lemons said. “When she decided to come out in a very public way, she paved the way for so many people to follow in her footsteps. In Meredith, they see a friendly, accessible and non-threatening person who has made the decision to come out, and perhaps that removes some of the fear and stigma from their own coming-out process.”

Baxter has a line of skin care products and donates a portion of the profits from sales to the Meredith Baxter Fund for Breast Cancer Research, which promotes prevention and research, as well as free mammograms for low-income women.

The 31st annual Black Tie Dinner will be at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel on Nov. 3. Although the event is officially sold out, anyone interested in tickets that may become available should contact Dan Godfrey at dgodfrey@blacktie.org.

Comedian and actress Caroline Rhea will serve as master of ceremonies at this year’s dinner. Transgender advocate, writer and musician Chaz Bono will receive the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, an award given to an individual, organization or company that has made a significant contribution of national scope to the LGBT community. Architect, volunteer and humanitarian Lucilo Peña will receive the Kuchling Humanitarian Award, presented to individuals who have made extraordinary gifts of their time and talents on behalf of the LGBT community. Plano-based J.C. Penney will receive the Black Tie Dinner Media Award, given in recognition of positive, increased awareness of LGBT issues in the media.

—  John Wright

Chaz Bono to receive Elizabeth Birch Equality Award
 at Black Tie Dinner


Chaz Bono

Chaz Bono will receive this year’s Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, co-chairs of the 2012 Black Tie Dinner announced today.

“While Chaz has found fulfillment in his work as a national activist, one of his greatest values in the GLBT community lies in reaching out and raising awareness on a grassroots level among young minds,” said Black Tie Dinner Co-Chair Chris Kouvelis. “Via his high national profile, Chaz continues to create visibility, increase awareness and impact change for transgender issues.”

Chaz Bono is an LGBT rights advocate, author and speaker. Most recently, Chaz received the GLAAD Media Award and was honored for his OWN documentary, Becoming Chaz, which chronicled the struggles of his gender reassignment journey. He also received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is given by GLAAD to an LGBT entertainer for promoting equality. Chaz embarked on uncharted territory last fall when he appeared on Dancing With The Stars.

Born Chastity, to Sonny and Cher Bono, Chaz came out as a lesbian to his parents at 18 in 1987. He did not come out publicly until April 1995 in an interview with The Advocate, and spoke about it publicly on the air for the first time ever on Lambda Weekly when he was in Dallas for National Coming Out Day

Chaz has contributed as a writer-at-large to The Advocate and became spokesperson for the HRC, promoting National Coming Out Day. Chaz also served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

The Elizabeth Birch Equality Award honors national leaders, and is given in recognition of the inspirational leadership of former Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. This award is given to an individual, organization or company that has made a significant contribution of national scope to the LGBT community.

Birch received the first award and last year decorated veteran Eric Alva, the first servicemember injured in the Iraq War received the honor. Other recipients have included Showtime Networks/Robert Greenblatt, Alan Cumming, Sharon Stone, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, Judy Shepard and American Airlines.

—  David Taffet

Lucilo Peña to receive Kuchling Award

Lucilo Peña

Architect Lucilo Peña will receive the prestigious Kuchling Humanitarian Award at this year’s Black Tie Dinner, the event’s co-chairs announced in a release today. Peña, who currently serves as president at Billingsley Co. in Dallas, is a longtime supporter of local LGBT and arts organizations.

He served on the national board of the Human Rights Campaign from 2000 to 2008. Locally, Peña served as co-chair of HRC’s Major Donor and Capital Campaign committees, and as a founding committee member for “Straight Talk on Gay Issues,” a series of events to reach out to allies.

Peña has been a trustee of the Dallas Museum of Art and a member of DMA’s Executive Committee since 2002. He’s been a member of the Board of Directors of the AT&T Performing Arts Center since 2010 and helped create the AT&T PAC/Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas, the release states.

The Kuchling Humanitarian Award is given to individuals who have made extraordinary gifts of their time and talents on behalf of the LGBT community. It is named for the late Raymond Kuchling, former manager of economic development for the city of Dallas and a founder of the organization that became Black Tie Dinner Inc. For a full list of previous Kuchling winners, go here.

“It will be an honor to present the prestigious Kuchling Humanitarian Award to this outstanding community leader this fall,” BTD co-chair Chris Kouvelis said. “Lucilo ideally reflects our theme for this year’s dinner: ‘Affair of the Heart.’ In whatever Lucilo gets involved, it is truly an affair of his heart, and he pours his heart into every project. He is an inspiration.”

Last month, Black Tie announced that J.C. Penney will receive this year’s Media Award. Black Tie has yet to announce the winner of the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award. The 2012 dinner is set for Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Sheraton Hotel Dallas. For more info, including tickets and sponsorship opportunities, go here.

Read the full release after the jump.

—  John Wright

LISTEN: MicahB and Kyan Loredo team for “Never Fail” (and will perform it Friday)

As a producer, songwriter and DJ, MicahB carved himself a healthy niche of gigs within the community. From major fundraisers like Black Tie Dinner to his weekly ’80s themed happy hour Cocktails. Then he bounced on out of here to relocate to West Hollywood to further his musical endeavors. And now we have proof of that.

He teamed up with singer Kyan Loredo for this latest track “Never Fail.” And as MicahB returns to Dallas this weekend, he brings Loredo with him to perform the song at Friday’s special edition of Cocktails.

“He will be performing our song which has been going off at the clubs here in West Hollywood and we’re excited to showcase it in our old stomping grounds,” he posted on his Facebook event notice for Friday.

In the meantime, here’s the recorded version of “Never Fail.”

—  Rich Lopez

Black Tie kicks off season with FW reception

FORT WORTH — Black Tie Dinner kicked off the season with a reception at the T&P railroad building in Fort Worth on Thursday night.

BTD Co-Chairs Mitzi Lemons and Chris Kouvelis announced the theme for this year’s dinner — “An Affair of the Heart.”

“‘An Affair of the Heart’ is exactly what Black Tie Dinner is,” Kouvelis said. “Thousands of people coming together solely to make a difference in the lives of so many.”

Holding the event in Fort Worth was a first for the dinner committee. The location was the lobby of the restored train station that has been renovated into lofts and is the western terminus for the Trinity Railway Express that originates at Union Station in Dallas.

About 250 people attended.

The 31st Black Tie Dinner will be held on Nov. 3 at the Sheraton Dallas.

—  David Taffet

Scenes from the 2011 Black Tie Dinner — Part I

Photos by Chuck Dube (Dallas Voice/MarceloMedia)

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART II >>>

—  John Wright

Scenes from the 2011 Black Tie Dinner — Part II

Photos by Chuck Dube (Dallas Voice/MarceloMedia)

PLEASE NOTE: Images will take a moment to load.

<<< CLICK HERE TO VIEW PART I

—  John Wright