Black Tie Dinner

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Black Tie Dinner, Inc.
Black Tie Dinner logo.png
Black Tie Dinner Logo
Founded 1982
Type 501(c)3 Non-profit (Charity)
Focus LGBT Organizations
Area served North Texas
Method Fund-raiser Gala Dinner

Black Tie Dinner is a formal charity dinner held each year in Dallas, Texas to raise money for the North Texas lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The first dinner was held in 1982. Since its inception, Black Tie Dinner has remained one of the largest GLBT fund-raising dinner in the nation, both in attendance and distribution. Today, the dinner is attended by approximately 3,000 guests per year, and has an annual distribution of over $1 Million. Each year, Black Tie Dinner selects up to 20 GLBT focused organizations in the North Texas area to receive proceeds from the dinner, in addition to one standing National beneficiary, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. To date, Black Tie Dinner has raised $17.4 million.[1][2]

Over the years, Black Tie Dinner has attracted an array of high-profile politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and other public figures; both as program entertainment and as attendees of the dinner. Examples include Goldie Hawn, Megan Mullally, Gena Davis, Sharon Stone, Martin Sheen and Lily Tomlin.

Black Tie Dinner is often mistaken for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) "gala" dinners which are held in many major cities around the nation. While the Human Rights Campaign Foundation receives approximately one half of the proceeds from the dinner, Black Tie Dinner, Inc. is an independent 501(c)3 organization with its own Board of Directors. Black Tie Dinner also has the distinction of benefiting local beneficiaries.[3]

The 31st Anniversary Black Tie Dinner was held November 3, 2012. The event, which sold out more than three months in advance, was emceed by actor and playwright, Leslie Jordon, and keynote by acclaimed actress and producer, Meredith Baxter. Other entertainment line-up that evening included GLBT advocate, writer, and musician, Chaz Bono and an appearance by Bravo's Million Dollar Listing Co-host, Madison Hildebrand.[2][4]

Mission Statement[edit]

"Black Tie Dinner is a non-profit organization that raises funds for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) supportive organizations serving North Texas through a premier event of empowerment, education and entertainment in partnership with the community." [1]


In early 1982, the newly formed Human Rights Campaign Fund, located in Washington, D.C., designated one of its leaders, Jim Foster, to make contact with the gay communities of several larger cities to test their interest in holding a formal fund-raising dinner to support HRCF.[5] One of the individuals Foster contacted was an old friend who had recently moved to Dallas, Texas: John Thomas. Thomas agreed to meet with Foster if he would come to Dallas, and to pull in a couple of friends who had broader connections with the gay community there, Ray Kuchling and Mike Anglin. That meeting was held, and after a short discussion of the magnitude of such a project, Anglin said: "I think we're going to need a bigger boat." He called his friend Dick Weaver, who immediately agreed to host a larger gathering of potential volunteers for the effort at his apartment the following evening (March 19, 1982). At the second meeting, the first "Dallas Dinner Committee" was formed, and it was agreed that John Thomas would serve as chair and that the group would commit itself to hosting a large (for that era) formal, black tie dinner, with the net proceeds to be donated to HRCF. One unique feature of this effort was that it would be entirely controlled through its local committee rather than by the national HRCF organization, and in later years the net proceeds from the event would be split between HRCF and local Dallas charitable organizations serving the gay community. The first Dallas Black Tie Dinner, held in October 1982 at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas, was attended by 140 people, and produced a $6,000 donation to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Each year thereafter, the dinner grew in both attendance and distribution. During its first 25 years, the dinner raised more than $10 million. Since then, the dinner has maintained an annual distribution of over $1 million and an average attendance of 3,000 guests per year.[1][3]


Co-Chairs present HRC President, Joe Solmonese, with check for $520,000 at the 2009 Black Tie Dinner Distribution Party.

Each year, beneficiaries are selected by Black Tie Dinner's Board of Directors. Beneficiaries are selected based on the quality and impact of service they provide to the North Texas GLBT community, as well their financial health and overall stability. Only 501(c)3 non-profits are considered. In addition to providing a significant service to the North Texas GLBT community, applicants must use the majority of their funds for direct programs, services, and/or activities. Beneficiaries who received proceeds in 2012 were:[1]


San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom, delivers the keynote at the 2009 Black Tie Dinner.

Each year, Black Tie Dinner features a high-profile keynote speaker. Speakers are typically politicians, Hollywood type celebrities or other prominent figures who have demonstrated a notable advocacy to the GLBT community. Recent keynote speakers have included:[1]

In addition to the keynote speaker, the dinner often includes other celebrity entertainment. Recent dinners have included such entertainers as Leslie Jordan, Caroline Rhea, Robert Gant, Peter Paige, Sharon Gless, Neil Meron, Craig Zadan, Leisha Hailey, Pam Grier, Beth Grant and Ross The Intern.


Each year, Black Tie Dinner recognizes several individuals and/or organizations that have made a "significant contribution to the continued fight for GLBT equality". The awards are publicly announced in advance of the dinner, and presented to their recipients as part of the dinner program. Of the three awards given, two are generally awarded to public figures, while the third is meant to recognize local community leaders.[1]

Media Award[edit]

The Black Tie Dinner Media Award was established in 2008, and recognizes the importance of increased positive awareness of GLBT issues in the media. Recipients have included:

Elizabeth Birch Equality Award[edit]

Elizabeth Birch presents her namesake award to Judy Shepard at the 2009 Black Tie Dinner.

Named for the former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, The Elizabeth Birch Equality Award is given in recognition of demonstrated national impact on GLBT rights. Recipients have included:

Kuchling Humanitarian Award[edit]

The Kuchling Humanitarian Award has been presented at every Black Tie Dinner since 1983. The award is given to individuals who have made extraordinary gifts of their time and talents on behalf of the gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender community. The award is named in honor of the late Raymond Kuchling, a leading activist in Dallas’ LGBT community in the 1980s.

The Documentary[edit]

In 2010, Mantra Communications, Inc. began work on a documentary studying Black Tie Dinner. The film, entitled "Edupowertainment", is scheduled to be released in 2013.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "". Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  2. ^ a b Block, Jenny (2011-11-14). "". Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  3. ^ a b "". Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  4. ^ "". 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  5. ^ Endean, Steve. 'Bringing Lesbian and Gay Rights Into the Mainstream: Twenty Years of Progress'. Editor: Vicki L. Eaklor, PhD. pp. 93, et seq. 
  6. ^ "Twitter / BlackTieDinner: Just announced! @ZachWahls". Retrieved 2013-12-04. 
  7. ^

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