lgbtcenterraleigh_logoRALEIGH, N.C. — The LGBT Center of Raleigh, 411 Hillsborough Rd., has announced their Fifth Annual LGBT Center Gala and Awards winners.

Randy Light is the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. As the Alliance of AIDS Services-Carolinas’ director of development and special events, he has been a well-known face in the Triangle community, most notably taking on the persona of Mark K. Mart. Performing as Mart, Light has served as the hostess of events to raise necessary monies to help keep the work of the agency viable. Light said, “As much as I enjoy raising awareness and bringing in money to find a cure for HIV and AIDS, I hope we’re not still trying to raise money for this 20 years from now.”

Former Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker has netted the LGBTQ Ally of the Year. Through his dedication, he championed such initiatives as the city’s employment non-discrimination policy. During his administration, Meeker also appointed LGBT community members to city boards and councils. Last year, he sported a “Vote Against” T-shirt and said, “I’m coming out for this side of the issue because it is the inclusive side. We need each other!”

The Organization of the Year goes to Crape Myrtle Festival. The individuals who have been a part of this group over the years have helped to raise funds that have supported a number of agencies and more over the years. Now, with greater than 30 years under its belt, it strives to be a positive force in the community.

“We support organizations that serve communities with real and serious needs,” its Board of Directors Chair Jaci Field said. “We hope that the way we do it adds a smile and perhaps a little glitter to everyone’s day.”

The Community Impact Award recipient is Jen Jones, communications director for Equality North Carolina. Her commitment against the Amendment One referendum carried her across the state as she ran from city to city to gain support to thwart the legislation. Unfortunately, a majority of voters approved the amendment.

“While we lost the referendum in 2012, conservatives came out against Amendment One in amazing numbers — simply because it was too broad,” Jones said. “But now, 71 percent of North Carolinians believe that employers should not discriminate against LGBT people who are employed by them.”

Dale Mackey, the center’s volunteer coordinator, received the Volunteer of the Year Award. He has served the center for three years, ensuring that it was staffed and operating appropriately. “During my tenure at the center, there have been only a handful of people who I feel truly get what the center does…With grace and poise, Dale Mackey always comes through,” Center Executive Director James Miller shared.

The awards will be presented on Oct. 11, 7-11 p.m., at Cobblestone Hall, 215 Wolfe St., Suite 100. The event will have live entertainment, silent auction, seated dinner and more. Tickets for the event are $100 and are available online. : :


Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.