The 31st Annual Black Tie Dinner, with 19 beneficiaries, was a grand success. Just ask any of the 3,000 people who attended the formal affair. It was a sight to see — iPads for bidding, dapper men in tuxes, women dressed to the nines and gay couples happily holding hands.
"Each year we work hard to entertain, educate and empower our guests," said co-chair Mitzi Lemons. "And while on the surface it is a gala event, it is first and foremost a joint venture of volunteers and the community to raise funds for LGBT supportive organizations in North Texas and to support our national beneficiary, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation."
It's good to know that the co-chairs — Lemons and Chris Kouvelis — are living up to the standards set at Black Tie Dinner's inception in 1981, to become the greatest fundraiser for the LGBT community.
This year's event at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, themed "Affair of the Heart," was one for the memory books — thanks in part to master of ceremonies and actor Leslie Jordan, who dressed up as last year's emcee, Caroline Rhea, upon entrance. Guests were fooled into believing it was Rhea (they even announced her name) until the lights came on. The silhouette was actually Jordan's.
After many laughs, the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award was given to Chaz Bono, the Raymond Kuchling Humanitarian Award was presented to Lucilo Pena, and designer Geoffrey Henning accepted the 2012 Media Award on behalf of JCPenney.
Then keynote speaker Meredith Baxter — best known for her role on Family Ties— talked about her experience coming out. She was too embarrassed to have her girlfriend park in front of her house. But Baxter's girlfriend refused to park her truck down the street. Years later, the couple is still going strong.
Guests — including Lucy Billingsley, Faye Briggs, Cece Cox, Betsy Orton, Philip Weir, David Wood, Stephanie Wilcox, Eric Johnson, Art Bloodworth, Jef Tingley and Jerrett Morris — worked the room and bid in the silent and live auctions. Joni Eddy was later declared the lucky winner of the Mercedes-Benz C250.
After a three-course meal, festivities continued with a dance party in the Grey Goose Lounge for those who couldn't bear to let the entertaining night end.
The buzz is that more than $1 million was raised. But we're waiting for the official count, which will be revealed at the upcoming distribution and volunteer party December 13.