Black Tie Dinner
|Type||501(c)3 Non-profit (Charity)|
|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 LGBT fund-raising dinners 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 LGBT 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 $21.5 million.
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 Debra Messing, Connie Britton, 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.
The 35th Annual Black Tie Dinner was held October 1, 2016 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. The sold-out event featured speeches by actresses Debra Messing and Connie Britton, and Olympic Gold medalist and LGBT activist Greg Louganis. Other entertainment line-up that evening included performances by Texas native Todrick Hall and multi-platinum recording artist and actress Deborah Cox.
"Black Tie Dinner is a non-profit organization that raises funds for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) supportive organizations serving North Texas through a premier event of empowerment, education and entertainment in partnership with the community." 
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. 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.
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 LGBT 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 LGBT community, applicants must use the majority of their funds for direct programs, services, and/or activities. Beneficiaries selected for 2017 are:
- Human Rights Campaign Foundation (standing National beneficiary)
- AIDS Interfaith Network
- AIDS Outreach Center
- AIDS Services Dallas
- Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ
- Celebration Community Church
- Congregation Beth El Binah
- Equality Texas Foundation
- Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
- Legacy Counseling Center
- Legal Hospice of Texas
- Northaven United Methodist Church
- Promise House
- Rainbow Roundup
- Resource Center
- Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas (SCCenter)
- The Trevor Project
- Turtle Creek Chorale
- Uptown Players
Each year, Black Tie Dinner recognizes several individuals and/or organizations that have made a "significant contribution to the continued fight for LGBT 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.
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:
- Debra Messing (2016)
- E! Entertainment (2015)
- Dale Hansen (2014)
- Fran Drescher and Peter Marc Jacobson (2013)
- JC Penney (2012)
- Jesse Tyler Ferguson (2011)
- Chely Wright (2010)
- Cyndi Lauper (2009)
- Logo Network (2008)
Elizabeth Birch Equality Award
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 LGBT rights. Recipients have included:
- Greg Louganis (2016)
- The Trevor Project (2015)
- David Boies and Ted Olson (2014)
- Zach Wahls (2013) 
- Chaz Bono (2012)
- Eric Alva (2011)
- American Airlines (2010)
- Judy Shepard (2009)
- Bishop V. Gene Robinson (2008)
- Alan Cumming (2006)
- Sharon Stone (2005)
- Robert Greenblatt and Showtime Networks (2004)
- Elizabeth Birch (2003)
Ally for Equality Award
Established in 2016, the Black Tie Dinner Ally for Equality Award recognizes a distinguished ally who has made a significant, positive impact, through personal and professional activities, on the LGBT community.
- Connie Britton (2016)
Kuchling Humanitarian Award
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.
For many years, Black Tie Dinner featured a high-profile keynote speaker. Speakers were typically politicians, Hollywood type celebrities or other prominent figures who have demonstrated a notable advocacy to the LGBT community. Recent keynote speakers have included:
- Dustin Lance Black (2013)
- Meredith Baxter (2012)
- Marlee Matlin (2011)
- Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (2010)
- Gavin Newsom (2009)
- Kenneth Cole (2008)
- Martin Sheen (2007)
- Gena Davis (2006)
- Lily Tomlin (2005)
- Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun (2004)
- Governor Ann Richards (2003)
- Goldie Hawn (2003)
- Stockard Channing (2002)
- Megan Mullally (2001)
- Kathy Najimy (2000)
- Armistead Maupin (1999)
- Linda Ellerbee (1998)
- Dr. Maya Angelou (1997)
- Congressman Pat Schroeder (1996)
- Governor Ann Richards (1995)
- Sandra Gillis (1994)
- Governor Barbara Roberts (1993)
- Senator Paul Tsongas (1992)
- Congressman Barney Frank (1991)
- Congresswoman Eleanor H. Norton (1990)
- Joe Steffan (1990)
- Senator Craig Washington (1989)
- Morgan Fairchild (1988)
- Congressman Gary Studds (1987)
- Harry Britt (1986)
- Vivian Shapiro (1985)
- David Goodstein (1984)
- Congressman Bill Green (1983)
- Virginia Apuzzo (1983)
- Joel Wachs (1982)
In addition to the keynote speaker, the dinner often includes other celebrity entertainment. Recent dinners have included such entertainers as Deborah Cox, Todrick Hall, Patti LaBelle, Leslie Jordan, Caroline Rhea, Robert Gant, Peter Paige, Sharon Gless, Neil Meron, Craig Zadan, Leisha Hailey, Pam Grier, Beth Grant and Ross The Intern.
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