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HRC Carolinas Dinner a success
More than 1,500 from both NC and SC attend

by Mark Smith

Rodney Tucker (left) and LaWanna Mayfield and Dan Mauney (right) present Thom Hutchens with the Volunteer Service Award.
CHARLOTTE — Now in its second year in Charlotte and headed for a third, the annual Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Carolinas Dinner held Feb. 28 at the Charlotte Convention Center attracted a record-breaking 1,600 party-goers, making it the most successful event of its kind in the country.

The evening — built around a James Bond motif and titled “Equality is Forever” — kicked off with a cocktail reception and musical performance by legendary Broadway and dance music artist Jennifer Holiday.

Partygoers mingled amidst actors dressed as characters from several different James Bond films. A shirtless man covered in gold body paint with an hors d’oeuvres tray attached to his hips entertained as “Goldfinger,” while a man dressed as Bond bad guy “Dr. No” tripped the light fantastic.

Partygoers gathered around a ‘Goldfinger’ buffet.

The point of the annual fundraiser is three-fold: to raise funds for the nationally-known LGBT human rights organization, to honor community members and activists on a local level and to provide a night of fun and entertainment.

Among those receiving awards that evening, were:

• The Raleigh-based Alliance of AIDS Services received the Community Service Award, an honor that is annually presented to groups and people who have helped improve the lives of members of the LGBT community.

• The Columbia, S.C.-based “Rainbow Radio,” a radio show that keeps that region’s LGBT audience informed with pertinent news and human interest stories, received the group’s Equality Award.

Comic actor Leslie Jordan talked about his experiences in the south and the need for equality.

• North Carolina resident Scott Vitez, perhaps best known as his drag alter-ego Shelita Ham, received the Legacy Award. Vitez was the founder and star of Gay Bingo, which raised nearly $700,000 for the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network.

In addition to Holiday’s performance, dance music artist Amber took to the stage later in the evening.

Throughout the night the stage was filled with celebrated figures: comic actor Leslie Jordan gave the keynote speech. HRC Executive Director Joe Solmonese also spoke to the crowd, as did Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts and Columbia, S.C. Mayor Bob Coble.

— At press time plans were already being made for next year’s event. For more details, visit www.hrccarolinas.org.

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