Adair Lion

Kaylee Anne Keith

Wrangle out that over-sized belt buckle, your 10-gallon hat and brush up on those two-stepping skills. Equality Texas, the LGBT advocacy group, will host its first-ever Texas-themed Ally Awards on Friday at the Vendome on Turtle Creek Boulevard. This year’s honoree recipients are: J.C. Penney for Business of the Year, rapper/singer/producer Adair Lion and Miss West Texas Kaylee Anne Keith for Individuals of the Year; and President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden for Civic Leaders of the Year.

Dennis Coleman, executive director for Equality Texas, said the idea for an ally awards benefit was created after seeing the success of  Equality Utah and Equality Colorado’s Ally Awards banquets. The winners were chosen from an online poll earlier this year. “We cannot do this on our own word. We need our allies. They have been important for the fight for equality,” said Coleman. “We are hoping this becomes a catalyst for larger things to come, like our friends in Colorado.”

In May, J.C. Penney published an ad featuring a lesbian couple in their Mother’s Day circulation, and recently another ad featuring Dallas gay couple Cooper Smith and Todd Koch and their two children. J.C. Penney received a lot of backlash, specifically from the group One Million Moms, but has stood by its decision to represent diverse families.

The Amarillo-based rapper/singer/producer Adair Lion is widely known for his pro-equality stance in the LGBT community. The soon-to-be released (June 25) album Micheal & Me, features the viral YouTube video and track “BEN” which raps that “gay is okay.” Lion’s fiancee Miss West Texas Kaylee Anne Keith will also be receiving the Individuals of the Year award for her 2011 platform on “Bullying Awareness and Prevention.”

On May 9 President Obama announced in an interview with ABC his support for gay marriage. The monumental decision has garnered both criticism and long-awaited celebration from the public and is backed by Vice President Joe Biden. The repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” has also earned them the award for Civic Leaders of the Year.

The Texas-themed inaugural event will take place Friday, June 22 from 8-10 p.m. at the Vendome on Turtle Creek Boulevard. Live music, a hosted bar from Austin’s Tito’s Vodka and Barefoot Wine and Bubbly, guest speakers/entertainers and desserts from The Cupcakery will be available. Prizes including a round-trip airfare for two from Spirit Airlines will be given out. Tickets may be purchased for $75 per person or $125 per person for host committee.

“Come out and support our allies so they may continue to do what they are doing,” said Coleman.