If you were wondering where all the beautiful men were Saturday night, we can attest that they — along with 3,000 of their nearest and dearest — were dressed to the nines and partying at the Sheraton Dallas hotel for the Black Tie Dinner.
Before the celebrity-filled program began, supporters — including Joe Pacetti, Sami Abboud, Alfonso Montiel, Jef Tingley, Jerrett Morris, John Bobbitt, Stephan Pyles, Will Wynn, Keith Nix, Greg Alford, Joshua Stroud, Tammi Neil, Tyler Hackett and Ron Corning — swarmed the bar and the silent auction, buzzing with anticipation for what lay ahead, courtesy of co-chairs Mitzi Lemons and Ken Morris.
First up, Broadway star and outspoken LGBT rights advocate Cheyenne Jackson, who treated the audience to a sexy, bluesy performance. But just as the crowd settled into their seats for dinner, they were back on their feet again when State Sen. Wendy Davis — who hopes to occupy the governor’s mansion — hit the stage.
She kicked off an evening of presentations with a touching anecdote about helping her grandfather write letters when she was just 9 years old. She spoke about his being too ill to speak and his frustrations about not having a voice — a reference to the night’s theme, “One Voice.”
The program continued with a parade of rousing speeches. The 22-year-old recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, Zach Wahls, spoke eloquently and articulately about his being raised by two loving mothers and how his speech in front of the Iowa House Judiciary Committee changed the trajectory of his life. His mothers and sister beamed at him proudly from their seats.
Fellow award winners included Dallas Voice writer David Taffet, honored with the 2013 Kuchling Humanitarian Award, and Happily Divorced co-stars Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson, who received the 2013 Media Award.
Drescher and Jacobson were adorable onstage as he joked about always being referred to as “Fran Drescher’s gay ex-husband.” Then he moved aside so Drescher — who was smoking hot in a skin-tight red dress, BTW — could take the podium solo to share their mantra of “love is love.”
And the hits just kept coming. Human Rights Campaign Foundation president Chad Griffin urged everyone to fight harder than ever before to ensure equality for everyone. Then featured speaker, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, brought down the house before diva Patti LaBelle ever had a chance.
Black talked about his upbringing in a conservative Mormon household in San Antonio and how he was moved by his mother’s unexpected acceptance of his sexuality — spurred by the stories his gay and lesbian friends had shared with her during a visit to his California home.
He pleaded with attendees to share their own stories to help change minds in Texas and across the nation. “Raise your voice, raise your voice, raise your voice!” he exclaimed, as the crowd stood up and erupted in applause. Guests stayed on their feet for R&B superstar LaBelle, who closed out the evening with some of her biggest hits.
In its history, the Black Tie Dinner has distributed more than $17 million to North Texas LGBT-supportive organizations and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Save the date for next year’s gala, which has already been set for November 15, 2014.