After the incredible time that I had at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) 2010 Carolinas Gala last year in Raleigh, with a hysterically entertaining Amtrak ride to Raleigh (since dubbed the “Hot Mess Express”) and an absolutely inspiring evening with friends and colleagues, there was never a doubt in my mind that I’d be going back for the 2011 HRC North Carolina Gala this year.
It turns out this year is going to be even bigger for me, for a couple of reasons.
First, and by far most importantly, I will finally be able to take Sal to an HRC Gala. I’ve gone to THREE of them without him now (one in Washington DC, one in Charlotte, and last year’s one in Raleigh) and he’s been unable to attend each time. He almost couldn’t make it to this one — he’ll be on tour, out of town, with his theatre company that day — but he’s making the drive over after work. This means I get to take the “Hot Mess Express” train over there on Friday, Sal will meet me there on Saturday, and we’ll drive home together on Sunday.
Second, my employer has increased its participation this year — the company is buying four tables at the dinner. As usual, several prominent executives will be there with their significant others, as a way to educate and inspire influential leaders (and to let them visibly demonstrate their support of LGBT associates.) But this year, with our increased table space, we’ll also be able to send a bunch of other associates who volunteered at LGBT-themed events throughout 2010, and each of them can bring a guest as well. It’s a great way to say “thank you” to people who devote their time and energy to our cause at work.
And third, in addition to several friends coming back for the second year in a row, this year I will finally get to include a couple of other friends who haven’t made it to one of these yet. One in particular I’ve been harassing about this for years — you know who you are! — so it’ll be great to combine some repeat offenders with some first-timers.
If you’re on the fence… I really encourage you to try to attend. Yes, the ticket is expensive, in this economy or any other. But it’s truly a MAGNIFICENT experience. Some people semi-snidely refer to it as “gay prom” but truly, it’s a great opportunity to dress up fancy, be with a bunch of great people, and have an unforgettable and inspirational evening. And if you’re traveling to the event, making it a weekend getaway, it’s all the more special.