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LAST MONTH, COLUMBUS hosted one of the most successful Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Galas in years. This was not like past galas, as this gala was about the past: this was the 30th Anniversary Columbus HRC Gala! Organizers Dee Reller and Rick Straits poured blood, sweat, and tears into every detail of this event. Their efforts paid off! If you were not in attendance, you missed an amazing night.
After taking in the crowd and venue, I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming support that HRC received from donors toward the successful silent auction. Attendees were able to bid on items ranging from local restaurant gift cards to round trip Europe airline tickets. It was heartwarming to see the number of corporate sponsors listed in the program booklet. Knowing that many of our local corporations support the values of HRC validates my love for this city.
Activist Constance McMillen, who was denied the right to take her girlfriend to the Itawamba County Agricultural High School prom in 2010, was a featured speaker. She educated, entertained, and captivated guests with her story of discrimination and triumph. Not only did she make change in her hometown, but she’s now fighting for the rights of the LGBT community around the country.
Several other speakers, including HRC President Chad Griffin, engaged the crowd with the extraordinary accomplishments HRC has made since 1980. They also reminded us that there is still much work to do before our community can consider ourselves equal.
Now what’s a gala without entertainment? After the closing remarks, the lights were flashing and the music was pumping to the electrifying singing of Thelma Houston. Everyone was quickly up to dance the night away.
Since this was my first time attending, I spoke to several regular attendees and heard nothing but praise. Even though it sounds like I started with “the best one,” I plan to attend more of them in the future. If you missed the Columbus Gala, you still have the chance to head to Cleveland as they host their 20th Annual HRC Gala in August.