HGTV’s David Bromstad will be among this year’s special guests at the HRC Carolina Gala in Raleigh. Photo Credit: Myriam Santos Kayda, HGTV.

When the Human Rights Campaign Carolinas Gala comes to Raleigh on Feb. 26, they’ll bring with them a home design hottie, an actress and singer known for her work with the best divas of the past half-century and the mayor of the largest city ever to elect an openly gay executive.

HRC will also award a longtime Triangle-area leader, a Raleigh high schooler and the Crape Myrtle Festival, which will receive the Equality Award for Organizational Contribution. Leader Joni Madison will receive this year’s Legacy Award. Wakefield High School student Kirstin Oshinsky will receive the Equality Award for Individual Contribution. (See our story from last issue

Gracing the stage while attendees dine and wine will be HRC President Joe Solmonese and special guests David Bromstad, Niki Harris and Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.

Bromstad won the first season of HGTV’s “Design Star” and currently hosts the channel’s “Color Splash.” He began his career as a student at the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., and is best known for his works across multiple platforms including custom art, furniture and interior design.

Harris has worked with a plethora of the last half-century’s best-known pop divas, including Kylie Minogue, Anita Baker, Whitney Houston and Madonna. A brilliant actress, dancer and singer in her own right, Harris worked with Madonna for a full 18 years. Since, she’s turned her attention to raising funds and awareness on issues as varied as AIDS education and prevention to cancer research. She also supports Camp Harmony, a camp and program for inner-city children.

Last but certainly not least is North Carolina’s own Mark Kleinschmidt. When elected in 2001 as a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council, Kleinschmidt became only the fifth openly gay or lesbian person ever elected to public office in the state. Through the following decade, he rose through the ranks earning the trust and support of his fellow citizens. In 2009, he was elected mayor.

The HRC Carolina Gala will be held on Feb. 26 at the Raleigh Convention Center. For more information, log on to : :

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.