CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly 1,600 LGBT and straight ally North Carolinians are slated to attend this year’s Human Rights Campaign North Carolina Gala on Feb. 23, 5:30 p.m., at the Charlotte Convention Center, 501 S. College St.
This year’s theme is “Mission: Equality.” The event is co-chaired by Ann Hopper, Zuni Johnson, Jason McCraw and Connie Vetter.
Tony and Emmy Award Winner Mandy Patinkin will be the keynote speaker. He is one of the stars of Showtime’s “Homeland,” playing CIA Division Chief Saul Berenson. The series is filmed in the Charlotte region.
Alex Newell, best known these days as Wade “Unique” Adams on FOX’s “Glee,” will provide entertainment. A feature-length interview with Newell will appear in the Feb. 15-28 print edition of qnotes.
Award honorees this year are Rev. Dr. William Barber and Campaign for Southern Equality.
Barber, president of the N.C. chapter of the NAACP, was a strong advocate against Amendment One and voiced his disdain without hesitation. He has been a leading proponent for progressive coalition politics in North Carolina and has been outspoken on legislative and other policy initiatives that could harm minorities and LGBT people. He was honored by Equality North Carolina in November and was the keynoter at their annual gala in Greensboro.
“Young people who have been tought that North Carolina was reasonable and progressive,” Barber said at the November gala, woke up on May 8 to a figurative “ice-cold water shock.”
“Even here in North Carolina — though our black and Latino brothers and sisters have always known it — the Tar Heel soil is fertile for hate and fear,” Barber said.
The civil rights leader called forcefully for a new politics of change.
“We must have a 21st century fusion politics where we stand together not sometimes but all the time,” Barber said, citing the history of successful coalition politics in the 1890s that led to some progressive reform in the state and significant increases in the number of black elected officials just 30 years after the end of the Civil War.
The Campaign for Southern Equality, based in Asheville, promotes LGBT rights in the South. It currently travels across the South advocating for federal equality. Its latest campaign on marriage has garnered significant regional and national attention among civil rights proponents and mainstream media.
Prior to the dinner, a silent auction will take place while attendees enjoy a cash bar and more.
The Westin Charlotte, 601 S. College St., serves as the host hotel for the weekend’s festivities.
Activities leading up to the Gala include: a takeover event at the Westin at Bar10 with a cash bar on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m., free; FrontRunners FunRun beginning at the Westin’s lobby, on Feb. 23, 7 9 a.m., free; Charlotte Pride Band Concert at Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Rd., on Feb. 23, 2:30 p.m., $13; after parties at local bars and clubs beginning on Feb. 23 at 10 p.m.; a Recovery Brunch at Vivace, 1100 Metropolitan Ave., on Feb. 24 at noon; and a Closing Tea Dance at Cathode Azure, 1820 South Blvd., on Feb. 24 at 3 p.m., cash bar, free.
Tickets are $225 for regularly priced tickets plus service fee. It includes a one-year general membership to HRC. A full list of prices is available online (premium, Federal Club member, major donor, student, senior and active duty military). Seats sell out fast, so purchase quickly.