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

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

“Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” wins yet another award at film festival

Dallas filmmaker Robert L. Camina’s documentary, Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, has snagged yet another festival award, this time Audience Choice Award for Feature Documentary at the CNKY Scene Film Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. Members of the Cincinnati police department and city council, including a recently elected out councilman, were in attendance with Camina and the film’s narrator, Meredith Baxter. This is the fourth award for the documentary about the Fort Worth/TABC raid on a Cowtown gay bar in 2009, which sparked a national debate on gay rights. It’s set to screen at about a half-dozen more festivals (gay and mainstream) before the end of the year.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

“Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” wins awards, books anniversary screening at Magnolia

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, the documentary about the event that triggered a renewed passion for gay rights in North Texas, has won two recent awards. Earlier this month, it took the Audience Choice Award at Fort Worth’s Q Cinema; then a week later, it took Best GLBT FIlm at the 32nd Breckenridge Festival of Film in Colorado. The latter, mind you, is not a gay film fest at all, but a mainstream one with a gay category.

The film has already screened thrice North Texas — at a world premiere this past spring in Sundance Square, a Dallas premiere in April and at Q Cinema on June 1 – but you still have another chance to see it: Raid will screen in Dallas on June 28 — the third anniversary of the actual raid — at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring many of the actual parties involved in the raid and its aftermath. You can purchase tickets in advance exclusively here.

View the trailer of the film, narrated by out TV icon Meredith Baxter, after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Rainbow Lounge’ doc premieres in Fort Worth

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE PREMIERE

For the first half hour of Thursday night’s premiere in Fort Worth of Robert Camina’s documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, the audience sat completely still and silent. Many were in tears as they relived the horror of the raid. Among those in the audience was Chad Gibson, who was injured in the raid and later settled with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the city of Fort Worth for more than $600,000.

Not until attorney Jon Nelson rebutted Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead’s assertion that it wasn’t a raid with the comment, “If it walks like a raid and quacks like a raid, it’s a raid,” did the audience break out into applause.

While Nelson was applauded the most through the film, raid witness Todd Camp got the most laughs. His first was when he described the police officers who claimed in their report that the officers were groped during the raid as having a “Village People fixation.”

Halstead is the “character” in the film that evolves most. The week of the raid, he’s seen reading from his officers’ report and defending his department. He said the comments of one woman at the first city council meeting after the raid affected him the most. She had driven from San Francisco to speak. He said he wondered what could have affected someone so much that she decided to drive halfway across the country to speak for three minutes and then turn around and drive back home. At that moment, he began to understand the frustration and anger of the community.

Mayor Mike Moncrief is the person who comes across the worst on film. He appears to have been cornered into making an apology that anyone in the city was hurt. Unlike Halstead, he did not appear in an on-camera interview in the film.

After the film, Halstead, who attended the premiere, again apologized for offending the community with his initial reaction and said that his department has changed. He said that within weeks of the raid, three male officers came out to him.

Halstead told the audience that when a similar raid happened in Atlanta 10 weeks later, he got a call from the acting chief in that city.

“Jeff, help me,” Atlanta’s chief said.

Halstead said that the atmosphere in the Fort Worth Police Department is completely different now than it was less than three years ago. When a rookie class is training, he said he enjoys introducing Sara Straten, the city’s first LGBT community liaison, by saying, “This is Sara. She’s a lesbian.” He said the reaction is always, “Did he really just say that?”

But he said that the raid has made a difference in training on a variety of issues including how officers respond to domestic violence calls.

Meredith Baxter, who narrated the film, spoke briefly at the premiere about how she became involved: A lot of nagging from Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable.

The film will be shown in Dallas at the Magnolia Theater on April 25. Tickets are available at RaidoftheRainbowLounge.com.

 

 

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Robert Camina’s long-awaited “Raid of the Rainbow Lounge” to premiere March 15

Meredith Baxter and Robert Camina

Robert Camina announced that the premiere of his documentary film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge will be held on March 15 at the AMC Palace 9 in Sundance Square in Downtown Fort Worth.

Meredith Baxter, who narrates the film, and Camina will be in attendance.

The film documents the events that happened at the newly opened Rainbow Lounge when Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission raided the bar on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Camina uploaded a new trailer for the film. Watch it below.

—  David Taffet

Camina raising funds to complete Rainbow Lounge documentary before March premiere

Filmmaker Robert Camina

Filmmaker Robert Camina said his new film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge is currently being mixed at a sound studio, and he is raising money to pay off costs incurred and post-production expenses as well as pay for distribution fees.

The 100-minute documentary details the bar raid that took place in Fort Worth on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. The Rainbow Lounge raid left two patrons of the bar injured, including one with severe head injuries.

“But I hope it has an inspiring message,” Camina said.

He said the film goes beyond documenting the raid to tell the story of the progress Fort Worth’s LGBT community made as a result of the incident. The raid, conducted by two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and seven Fort Worth police officers, led to new transgender protections in the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, a police liaison to the LGBT community, sensitivity training for all city employees and a variety of other advances.

Before making this film, Camina’s experience was with comedies.

“I learned more about politics making this film,” he said.

The film is narrated by Meredith Baxter, and Camina hopes to premiere it in March in Fort Worth.

Contributions to expenses for the film can be made here. As a thank you, Camina Entertainment is offering mugs, T-shirts and autographed copies of Baxter’s book, Untied.

—  David Taffet

Kristy McNichol comes out

There must have been something in the craft services table on the set of the ’70s drama Family. First Meredith Baxter, now co-star Kristy McNichol has come out as lesbian.

In an interview with People magazine, the 49-year-old actress — who won Emmys for Family at ages 14 and 16 and later starred on the sitcom Empty Nest — said it was about time. About two years ago, Baxter, who played McNichol’s sister on the show, also came out.

On Family, McNichol played Buddy, the tomboy youngest sibling. She was always something of a lesbian icon for her rough, no-nonsense persona; on Empty Nest, she played a cop.

Dare we ask… Can Jo from The Facts of Life be far behind?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Meredith Baxter to narrate Camina doc about Rainbow Lounge raid

Robert L. Camina, the North Texas filmmaker who has been putting together a documentary about the June 2009 raid on Fort Worth’s Rainbow Lounge for two years, has scored a coup: He has tapped TV icon Meredith Baxter to narrate.

Raid of the Rainbow Lounge has been in the works since almost as soon as the raid — which took place, ironically, on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City that sparked the modern gay rights movement. The raid galvanized the gay community in Fort Worth and beyond. The completed film runs 102 minutes and will receive its premiere in Cowtown in March.

Baxter, who came out as lesbian in 2009, has been an Emmy-nominated TV star for 35 years, best known for playing the mom on Family Ties. She released a memoir this fall and was recently in Dallas for the Out & Equal conference.

You can view a teaser trailer of the film here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

OUT & EQUAL: Equal workplace around the world

More than 2,500 people have registered for Out & Equal Workplace Summit

Among the topics being addressed at today’s Out & Equal Workplace Summit taking place at the Hilton Anatole Hotel is extending LGBT rights to employees around the world.

Representatives of the Organization for Refugees, Asylum and Migration will speak about LGBT immigration problems. Another workshop addresses the state of the LGBT workplace in the Phillipines.

Robyn Ochs, a workshop speaker, said the issue of employment equality around the world involves U.S. employees who are transferred to countries where homosexuality is illegal. But it also involves people from countries with marriage equality who are unable to get visas for a spouse to come to the United States.

A panel this morning addressed the importance of LGBT diversity to drive innovation.

At the morning plenary, actress Meredith Baxter spoke. She will be at Nuvo on Cedar Springs Road this evening signing copies of her book.

Rick Welts, the first openly gay man in professional sports management, spoke as well.

“He hit it out of the ballpark,” said Out & Equal Director of Communications Justin Tanis.

Awards were given this morning for best affiliate. Houston won that award, Tanis said, because they have involved more than 80 companies and are extremely active. Bank of America was awarded best LGBT employer. Among the reasons are its transgender health benefits and its tax equalization plan for LGBT benefits announced this month.

The exhibit halls are open today and tomorrow and are free, but to enter, stop by the registration desk for a pass, Tanis said.

More than 2,500 people have registered for the conference.

Dani Siragusa is coordinating volunteers for the event, among other duties. She said that a number of individuals have volunteered throughout the week and the corporate teams have put in a special effort. Dozens of American Airlines employees are staffing registration. She said that 60 volunteers from Ernst & Young are the workshop room hosts who greet, distribute, collect and tally evaluations that she said are invaluable in planning future conferences.

“They’ve been doing that for years,” she said.

And JP Morgan Chase volunteers are acting as plenary greeters helping those events with thousands of people in the hotel’s largest ballroom go off without a hitch.

The conference continues through Friday. This evening is community day when attendees hit Cedar Springs Road.

—  David Taffet