The Human Rights Campaign celebrated with one of its largest Atlanta galas ever on Saturday, toasting equality and raising funds with a black-tie crowd that included celebrities, entertainers and several politicians.
“You keep up the fight even when some say the road in Georgia is impossibly long,” HRC President Chad Griffin told the crowd.
Nearly 1,200 people attended the 26th Annual Atlanta Gala Dinner & Auction, one of the largest-ever crowds for the fundraiser. Last year's event raised $400,000 before expenses, though the funds are not directed to local LGBT equality efforts. HRC officials declined to provide specifics to the GA Voice when asked what, if any, resources it allocates in Georgia.
On Saturday, singer and “Glee” actor Matthew Morrison delighted the crowd when he accepted HRCs Ally for Equality Award. Between jokes, Morrison also turned serious.
“I know just as much as you do that none of us are free until all of us are free to express our love and commitment to one another,” he said. (Watch his acceptance speech.) Gay actor Jonathan Groff, who has appeared on “Glee,” introduced Morrison.
Other award winners included Joining Hearts, which received the Dan Bradley Humanitarian Award, and Michael Shutt, the head of LGBT Life at Emory. He received the Leon Allen & Winston Johnson Community Service Award.
Eight elected officials attended, including U.S. Rep. John Lewis who received a rousing standing ovation after being introduced. Mayor Kasim Reed was also there, the first time Reed has attended the event since 2009 and his first time as Atlanta's mayor. Reed declined to comment.
Several LGBT elected officials were on hand, including Atlanta City Council member Alex Wan, Fulton County Commissioner Joan Garner and her partner, Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison. Other elected officials included state Rep. Pat Gardner, Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall and former Atlanta City Council President Lisa Borders.
R&B singer Niki Harris, best known for being one of Madonna's background singers and dancers, also performed.
Photos by Sher Pruitt