Black Tie Dinner

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Black Tie Dinner, Inc.
Black Tie Dinner Logo.png
Type501(c)3 Non-profit (Charity)
FocusLGBT Organizations
Area served
North Texas
MethodFund-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.[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 Debra Messing, Connie Britton, Goldie Hawn, Megan Mullally, Geena 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 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.

Mission statement[edit]

"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." [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.[4] 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 the HRC Foundation with a check for $515,000 at the 2016 Black Tie Dinner Wrap 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 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:[1]


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.[1]

Media Award[edit]

Debra Messing receiving the Media Award at the 2017 Black Tie Dinner

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 LGBT rights. Recipients have included:

Ally for Equality Award[edit]

Connie Britton, recipient of the Ally for Equality Award, speaks at the 2016 Black Tie Dinner.

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.

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.


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

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:[1]

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.

See also[edit]


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

External links[edit]