With a 25th anniversary theme of Be Part of Equality, HRC Atlanta donned tuxes and gowns for its annual dinner and silent auction on Saturday with a sold-out event packed with political and celebrity guests.
The big draw of the night was keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), who’s running to become the first openly gay U.S. Senator. If outgoing HRC President Joe Solmonese trotting her out wasn’t enough to make the crowd cough up for HRC coffers, celebrities in the bag provided extra incentive. Reality TV and Broadway singer Frenchie Davis performed, and actor Sean Hayes from “Will & Grace” received an oddly chosen Visibility Award.
This year’s local honorees were Rev. Phillip Thomason, minister of Outreach and Pastoral Care at Saint Mark United Methodist Church, and the Health Initiative.
Also mixing with the dressed up masses at the Hyatt Regency this year were gay-friendly Georgia lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. John Lewis, state legislators Vincent Fort, Nan Orrock, Stacey Abrams and Pat Garner, as well as gay state Reps. Simone Bell and Rashad Taylor. Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner, a lesbian, and gay state House candidate Ken Britt were also in attendance, though Georgia’s longest running and newest lesbian state Reps. Karla Drenner and Keisha Waites were absent.
Also conspicuous in his absence was Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Even Morrow, Ga., Mayor J.B. Burke and one of Reed’s rivals in the 2009 mayoral race, former Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders, found the time. Both of Atlanta Police Department’s LGBT Liaisons, including the newest addition to the team, were there, as well as Deputy Chief Renee Propes, APD’s highest ranking gay commander. A dance party following the dinner was helmed by local gay favorite DJ Mike Pope.
Photos by Sher Pruitt