Atlanta’s gay bigwigs clean up nice for HRC gala dinner

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Dinner with LGBT VIPs is always a draw for the annual HRC Atlanta Gala Dinner. Saturday was no exception as hundreds of tuxed and gowned supporters toasted equality for the local event’s 27th year.

In addition to all the sites we predicted would give you an eyeful, an estimated 1,300 glammed-up guests enjoyed having their spirits lifted by this year’s honorees. Of course, that included Atlanta’s gay weather daddy Sam Champion, who boasted handsome husband Rubem Robierb on his arm, as well as two local non-profits. Rick Westbrook alongside board members of Lost N Found Youth, as well as ER Anderson of Charis Circle, delivered moving acceptance speeches.

For their part, HRC Atlanta calls it “the most successful Atlanta HRC Gala ever!”

The 1,300 guests will never know how many tireless, thankless hours were put into pulling off such an amazing evening. They didn't see the months of planning, the hours of personal time given up nor the sweat equity spent. What they did see was an amazing evening that went off without a hitch.

For that, we are grateful to every single committee member. We know how much you sacrificed for the cause of equality.

Other attendees spied in the crowd and in our photo gallery below include HRC President Chad Griffin, U.S. Rep. John Lewis (who danced on stage to “Happy”), state Sen. Nan Orrock, singer Betty Who, former Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders, Georgia school superintendent candidate Valarie Wilson and Alabama state Rep. Patricia Todd, the first-ever openly gay person elected to the Alabama legislature. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed attended for the second year in a row.

Of course, gay Atlanta’s own elected officials were all up in the event. Shaking hands and kissing cheeks were hard-scrabble state Rep. Simone Bell, Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan, Decatur Mayor Pro-Tem Kecia Cunningham, Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner and her partner, Fulton State Court Judge Jane Morrison. Gay state legislative hopefuls were also in the house: Bob Gibeling and Randy New, gay candidates for state House, as well as Kyle Williams, who is running a contentious race for Jason Carter's state Senate seat.

Carter himself was also on hand at the dinner. The former president’s grandson is leaving the Georgia Senate to run for governor. Art Gardner, the lone Republican running for U.S. Senate who favors gay marriage and backs the lawsuit against Georgia's gay marriage ban, was also rubbing elbows and drumming up support.

Photos by Sher Pruitt

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