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Dallas Black Tie Affair Raises Over $1M for HIV Orgs

by Jenny Block
Friday Nov 8, 2013

Some nights leave you changed. They make you feel sure that the whole world could be changed too, if only they had been there to witness it. That was how Black Tie Dinner felt in Dallas on November 2 at Sheraton Dallas, which marked the tenth year for the event at this venue. It was a night filled with excitement, glamour, and the kind of inspiration that everyone deserves to experience at least once in their life.

The night started off with a bang and a surprise. First there was a performance by Cheyenne Jackson of "Glee" fame and then an appearance by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis. The audience was delighted to hear Jackson perform. But they absolutely sprang to their feet as Davis took the stage. It was clear in that moment that we were a part of history in the making.

Event goers hung on her every word as she talked about her own experience as a nine-year-old girl writing letters for her grandfather, saying, "How painful it is to lose your voice and how important it is to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. I have seen the power one voice can bring and the change that can come for it."

She spoke about her now famous filibuster, leaving the audience nodding in agreement and cheering her every word. "I was speaking for men and women across Texas who desperately wanted to be heard. It was the people’s filibuster."

It’s hard to imagine a better start to an evening themed "One Voice" and celebrating its 32nd year of raising money and awareness for LGBTQ causes. "It’s time to give all Texans a voice in their future," Davis told the crowd. "There are better opportunities ahead. There is no fight we can’t take on and win. Where you start has nothing to do with how far you can go."

Texas Native Dustin Lance Black Speaks

But Davis was just the beginning of what proved to be a truly spine-tingling evening. Kleenex was in order when the night’s featured speaker Academy Award-winning screenwriter and executive producer, Dustin Lance Black, took the stage. His speech was as empowering as "Milk," the film for which he’s famous.

Black, a native Texan, could not feel any more connected to the cause of LGBTQ equality. "When we won the court case in California earlier this year," he told Edge, "it was clear that we live in two Americas. All you have to do is cross the state line and you have less protection [if you are LGBTQ]."

Black fights, he said, because his own brother who died of cancer, "never had the chance to know what it was to be a full American. He will never have the chance to have the country he loved respect him in return."

When Black took the stage, he again spoke about the brother he called, "a real redneck. My brother loved to watch cars go around in a circle. Loved to shoot guns. Yet he will never know a day where he is respected and protected." He also spoke about his cousin who he brought to he event, teasing, "She likes gay people. Before ’Will and Grace.’ She’s a God damned Texas saint."

But not all families are so supportive. "We live in a checkerboard nation," Black continued, "where some states are free and some states are not."

By the end of his speech, Black teared up and it was clear the audience was right there with him, rising to their feet, all cheers and applause as he finished his moving speech.

"I’m back in Texas and I’m ready to fight," Black said. "Tell your personal story. Tell it to everyone. With your bravery, you can change hearts. Change Dallas. Change Texas. Change nations. We pledge our allegiance to one America. We do not leave any of our brothers and sisters behind no matter who they love."


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