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

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

What’s Shakin’ – People Empowering People happy hour, Chaz Bono takes on the National Enquirer

1. People Empowering People is a collaboration between The Men’s Group, a social group for African-American gay, bisexual, and same gender loving men, and TMG One Voice, The Men’s Group’s co-ed counterpart.  PEP’s monthly happy hour tonight at F Bar (202 Tuam) provides a casual social setting open to all regardless of ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression and an opportunity to mix and mingle with the fabulous men and women of both organizations.  The festivities kick off at 6 pm.

2. Joe My God has a copy of the Cease and Desist letter sent by lawyers for Chaz Bono to the National Enquirer. Seems the tabloid ran a story in this week’s issue claiming that Bono’s gender transition has shortened his life expectancy to 4 years.  The Enquirer article quotes the opinion of Dr. Patrick Wanis, identified as a medical doctor specializing in transgender health issues.  The problem?  According to Bono’s lawyers not only is Wanis not an expert on trans health issues, he’s not a medical doctor.

3. Today is the last day to early vote in the Houston Municipal election, but if you miss this opportunity you can still cast your ballot at your precinct voting location on Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

—  admin

A message for Bo & Jim: Bullying and beating up trans children is no joking matter

Bo, left, and Jim, morning show DJs on Lone Star 92.5 FM

I drive about 60 miles round trip in my daily commute to and from work, and I almost always have the radio on. The past couple of mornings, while flipping from station to station to find something I wanted to listen to, I have ended up on Lone Star 92.5 FM, the classic rock station, which features Bo and Jim as its morning show DJs.

On Wednesday morning, Bo and Jim started talking about Chaz Bono getting the boot from Dancing With the Stars. When they started talking, my immediate reaction was to begin bristling with indignation, because I expected to hear so-called “jokes” and crass comments about Chaz’s gender identity. But I was surprised. Instead, Bo and Jim referred to Chaz throughout as a male, using proper — male — pronouns the whole time.

The DJs did make fun of Chaz’s dancing. But considering that he was on a dancing show, his talent as a dancer — or lack thereof — was fair game.

But this morning was a different thing altogether.

This morning, Bo and Jim started talking about a 7-year-old girl, Bobby Montoya of Colorado, who was born biologically male but who identifies and, with the support of her mother, lives as a female. Bobby wanted to join Girl Scouts but was rejected because, as the Girl Scouts worker said, “he has boy parts.” Girl Scout officials higher up in the hierarchy quickly stepped in, said the first person misunderstood the policies, and that Bobby is more than welcome to join Girl Scouts. You can read the story here on Huffington Post.

Bo and Jim, in talking about the story, chose to refer to Bobby throughout as a boy and with male pronouns, which was bad enough. But what really set me off was when they said, basically, “You know this kid is going to get beat up all the time. Even the girls are going to beat him up.” They said it as a joke, an attempt to get laughs. And that is unacceptable.

—  admin

Chaz Bono attacked for inclusion on ‘DWTS’

Earlier this week I reported that Chaz Bono, the transgender child of Cher and Sonny Bono, was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. What a great bold move for ABC, I thought. Well, apparently a lot of people think differently.

TheWrap.com is reporting that ABC’s message board lit up with hostile, hateful comments about Chaz. “How low can this show sink” was one comment. Others suggest that is was “sickening” and simply a media conspiracy to “flaunt” gay culture.

Maybe we need to stick up for our community. If you’re so inclined, you can go here to the DWTS message board and post your own comment. Don’t let the haters win.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Chaz Bono among the celebs on next ‘DWTS’

Chaz Bono, the transgender son of gay pop icon Cher and the late Sonny Bono, is one of the new contestants on the upcoming season of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. He becomes the first trans person ever on the show. The season will also feature one of the few other gay competitors on the show, former Queer Eye style guru Carson Kressley. (Several seasons ago, Lance Bass made it to the finals of DWTS.)

Chaz and Carson join a (typically) quirky lineup that also includes goofy actor David Arquette (Scream),  shrill conservative talking head Nancy Grace, singer Chynna Phillips and famous-for-nothing celeb Rob Kardashian.

The season premieres Sept. 19.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Silkwood,’ with Cher as a lesbian, screens Friday

The Studios at Las Colinas has been around a long time now. How long? Well, let’s put it this way: Its first major project was Silkwood, the 1983 film in which Cher played a lesbian (it was good training for her dealing with her fans and daughter, now son, Chaz).

If you haven’t seen Silkwood for a while, you can fix that this weekend. On Friday, the Muller Film & Television Education Foundation will host a mixer and screening of the Oscar-nominated film, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the upstairs art gallery of Building 1 of the studios. Cost is $5 for foundation members, $10 for non-members. To RSVO, visit FilmTVEducation.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Becoming Chaz’ airs Tuesday night on OWN

Chaz Bono

I first heard about Becoming Chaz, the documentary about Chastity Bono’s transition to Chaz Bono, back in March, and I decided then and there I would be watching the doc when it aired on the new Oprah Winfrey Network in May. Of course, now it is May, and I had forgotten about the documentary until I saw this article, “The reluctant transgender role model,” about the program by Cintra Wilson in The New York Times.

I felt like Wilson, in her article, focused a little too much on Chaz’s mom, Cher, and what she thought about the transition. But I was impressed that Wilson admitted that while she considered herself open-minded and liberal, she discovered in watching the documentary that she wasn’t as open-minded as she thought when it comes to transgenders. I think that’s true for a lot of people.

So anyway, I thought there might be other folks out there like me who want to see the documentary but who needed a reminder, so here it is: Becoming Chaz airs Tuesday at 8 p.m. Central time. I have DirecTV, which airs OWN on Channel 270. On AT&T U-Verse, it’s Channels 256 and 1256. Charter broadcasts OWN on Channel 225, and on DISH Network, it is on channels 189 and 885. (If your cable provider isn’t listed here, check the OWN homepage here which lets you find it based on your zip code.)

And here is a promotional trailer for the film:

—  admin

Chaz Bono talks to 'Entertainment Tonight's' Mary Hart

Entertainment Tonight will air a two-part interview with Chaz Bono discussing the details of his sex reassignment. In it, Bono talks to Mary Hart about hormone therapy, growing changes and even shaving his face. This comes from ET‘s release announcing the interview.

He goes on to say, “I always felt like the male from the time I was a child. There wasn’t much feminine about me. I believe that gender is something between your ears not between your legs. That is something I discovered in the early 90′s. It was just a long process of being comfortable enough to do something about it. I was turning 40 and I thought it’s now or never. I want to still feel vibrant and be able to enjoy my life in a male body and not wait until I am an old man.”

The interview airs tonight and tomorrow.

—  Rich Lopez