Black Tie Dinner chairs John Lawrimore, left, and Mitzi Lemons, right, present a check for $515,000 to HRC President Chad Griffin, second from right. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Brendan Bass has never attended a Black Tie Dinner.

But he has not only attended a Black Tie Dinner distribution party, he hosted the 2015 distribution party at his showroom in the Design District on Thursday, Dec. 10.

Baron Farha works at Brendan Bass Showroom and has contributed artwork and other items to Black Tie’s silent auction for years. The more he talked about Black Tie, the more convinced Bass was that he needed to contribute as well.

Farha describes Bass as charity-driven; he has supported his church and the American Cancer Society — among others — for years. Then last summer, after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its marriage equality ruling, Bass attended his first same-sex wedding. It was, he told Farha, “probably the classiest wedding I ever went to.”

After moving to Oak Cliff, Bass started hearing his neighbors talk about Black Tie, and that piqued his interest. But what sealed his commitment to working with the LGBT community was attending a Anti-Defamation League luncheon.

“Why is everyone not treated equally?” he asked Farha afterwards.

So this fall, when Farha was talking about Black Tie Dinner and how much money it raises for so many organizations, “a lightbulb went off” for Bass, Farha said, noting that Bass asked, him, “How can we be more involved as a company?”

That’s where Margaret Duncan stepped in.

Duncan is Black Tie’s development director. She and Farha met years ago at a Black Tie Dinner and have been close friends ever since.

Black Tie’s annual distribution party was coming up and Duncan didn’t have a venue for it yet. Bass jumped at the chance to host the party and also offered his space for Black Tie’s sponsor’s party next fall.

It is, they all agreed, the beginning of what looks to be a very satisfying arrangement, all the way around.

Black Tie 2015

Duncan said this year’s dinner was a tremendous success, with almost 30 new sponsors and a number of returning sponsors who upgraded their commitment.

John Lawrimore rotates off as Black Tie co-chair this year, and will be replaced by Nathan Robbins. Mitzi Lemons, who returned to co-chair Black Tie earlier this year when Debra Davis took an out-of-state job, continues for another year.

Black Tie distributed a total of $1,030,000 to 15 local organizations and to the national Human Rights Campaign Foundation on Thursday.

Of the local organizations, three are arts organizations, three are civil rights groups, four are religious groups, four are AIDS service organizations and one, Resource Center, does AIDS work as well as LGBT community advocacy and other work.

Human Right Campaign Foundation: $515,000
AIDS Interfaith Network: $31,213
AIDS Outreach Center: $28,613
AIDS Services Dallas: $41,387
Cathedral of Hope: $39,362
Celebration Community Church: $33,962
Congregation Beth El Binah: $30,638
Equality Texas Foundation: $31,663
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fundraiser: $34,512
Legacy Counseling Center: $30,588
Legal Hospice of Texas: $30,588
Northaven United Methodist Church: $35,458
Resource Center: $53,362
Turtle Creek Chorale: $31,812
Uptown Players, Inc.: $33,079
The Women’s Chorus of Dallas: $28,763

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 11, 2015.