Partying for a Cause: Black Tie Dinner at Sheraton Dallas

"Who are you wearing?" was the first thing I heard as I stepped into the pre-dinner reception at the Sheraton Dallas. "Betsey Johnson," I said to the inquirer. I love events full of gay men.

The annual Black Tie Dinner is certainly one of those events. Not that there isn't a reasonable showing of women as well. But we were not the majority, to be sure. Black Tie Dinner is known for drawing gaggles of handsome, well-dressed men for an evening of fundraising and, of course, partying.

This year was the 30th anniversary of Black Tie Dinner. The event was co-hosted by Nan Faith Arnold and Chris Kouvelis and drew 3,000 dinner guests. The beneficiaries of the monies raised will be HRC, as well as 20 local charities throughout North Texas.

After a couple of early receptions, of which Black Tie Dinner has many, we finally made our way to the main event. By the time we reached the silent auction, just outside of the ballroom where dinner would be served, the room was packed with party-goers enjoying Grey Goose cocktails, bidding on items and generally making merry.

And there was a lot to be merry about on Saturday night.

Once the dinner got underway, Caroline Rhea emceed; Taylor Dane sang; Joe Solmonese spoke; Eric Alva was presented with the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award; Bud Knight and Chet Flake received the Kuchling Humanitarian Award; Jess Tyler Ferguson was presented with the Black Tie Media Award; and Marlee Matlin, with her interpreter Jack Jason, delivered the keynote address.

I have heard many, many people over the years and Matlin was, without a doubt, one of the best. And when she was done speaking, she even auctioned off the very earrings she was wearing, black and white diamond hoops; they fetched $10,000 after Rhea pulled one guest on-stage and got her to up her bid.

As promised, Matlin hugged and kissed the very excited winner. Rhea did her part in the auction too, offering up two Broadway tickets and the chance to meet Hugh Jackman backstage. Two bidders took her up on that to the tune of $12,500 each.

The final numbers won't be released until early December. But I'm told that they will distribute more than a million dollars as a result of Saturday night's festivities, which drew a number of high profile guests, including Jan Strimple and Lupe Valdez, among others.

After the dinner, the festivities went on into the wee hours with various after-parties and gatherings. And all around you could hear people already talking about buying tickets for next year.

No wonder. This year's event sold out in August. It's nice to know the economy hasn't ruined everything.

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