CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Community members, philanthropists and movement leaders from across the state and country will gather in town this weekend as the Human Rights Campaign hosts its annual North Carolina Gala.

The event will attract up to 1,300 or more dinner guests at the Charlotte Convention Center on Saturday evening, featuring an address from HRC President Chad Griffin, who will fly from the group’s D.C. headquarters to attend the event. Also present will be 1990s house singer Crystal Waters, who will perform at the event.

But the real stars will be HRC’s 2015 award winners. The group will award its Visibility Award to Samira Wiley, a lesbian actress who stars in the role of Poussey Washington on the hit Netflix series “Orange is the New Black.” Wiley, 27, was recently featured on one of the OUT 100 20th anniversary magazine covers.

Local winners include the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund,an endowment initiative of the Foundation For The Carolinas, is the state’s largest ongoing funder for LGBT causes, and Josh Bledsoe. An instructor at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock, N.C., Bledsoe is also a founding faculty advisor for the college’s LGBT student group, PRISM, and has been involved with a variety of local LGBT efforts, including a production of “The Laramie Project” and the creation of a Western North Carolina gay-straight alliance network.

The event is HRC’s 20th annual fundraising dinner in North Carolina.

Want more information on the events this weekend? Check out our list of featured events below and be sure to click back to this article featured in our Feb. 13 print edition.

Feb. 20
HRC Takeover
The Westin Charlotte
601 S. College St., Charlotte
7-11 p.m.
Dan Mauney returns with his signature Takeover Friday event at The Westin Charlotte’s lobby bar the night before the weekend’s Human Rights Campaign Gala festivities.
takeoverfriday.com

Feb. 21
HRC Fun Run
Just Fresh
1231 East Blvd., Charlotte
9 a.m.
Join members of the Charlotte Front Runners for a morning fun run. Choose from a two or four mile course for a social run/walk. Event is free.
hrccarolina.org

Feb. 21
HRC North Carolina Gala
Charlotte Convention Center
501 S. College St., Charlotte
5:30-11 p.m.
The Human Rights Campaign presents their annual North Carolina Gala. The group expects more than 1,500 attendees at their signature local fundraising event. Information and tickets are available online.
hrccarolina.org

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.