Strolling into the Charlotte Convention Center yesterday, I was looking forward to the 2012 Human Rights Campaign (HRC) North Carolina Gala… and got a lot more than I bargained for, with the other events also being held at the convention center.
It was quite the combo, let me tell you.
First, just in case you’re not familiar, let me give background: The Human Rights Campaign is a lobbying organization that fights for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the United States. They were one of the groups behind the recent repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and have been working heavily towards marriage equality (i.e. same-sex couples being allowed to marry) in the U.S.
Their gala dinners are fancy black-tie affairs with LGBT people dressed to the nines for an evening of food, drink, fundraising, and sometimes political campaigns. So imagine my surprise when, showing up at the HRC dinner, I encounter hundreds of people in leather jackets, helmets, boots, inventive facial hair, and the like… at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show.
They were probably just as surprised to see me as I was to see them. Picture it — mid-thirties gay man in a tuxedo, surrounded by motorcycle enthusiasts. Many of them had probably never seen a gay man in a tux before, or so my stereotyping would suggest.
Skip ahead five or six hours, where we’ve enjoyed the HRC dinner and have had an evening of food, a bunch of wine, and some dancing and whatnot after the dinner. On the way to the exit after midnight, we kept seeing young people (college age) who were clearly not dressed for the HRC dinner. I was perplexed, until I got a glimpse through a window of a downstairs section of the convention center, with dozens of booths and hundreds of college kids.
Yes, at the conclusion of the HRC dinner, there was the 2012 NACA National Convention.
I didn’t know what the NACA group was, so I had to look it up… and then discovered this write-up:
The Convention hosts more than 80 live performances of music, lectures, art, comedians and other performances, as well as professional and educational sessions throughout the event to build professional development for both staff and students. Diversity program meetings, campus activities marketplace and a graduate program fair are also some of the programs that the NACA Convention has to offer.
So yes, over a thousand impressionable college kids, surrounded by a bunch of well dressed (and by this hour, fairly drunk) gays and lesbians in fancy attire. What could possibly go wrong?
No worries though — we stared incredulously through the window for a minute, and then left.
You heard it here first, folks… The Human Rights Campaign has something for everyone. Whether you’re in the mood for a biker, a banker, a politician, some pretty-boy arm candy, or a random college kid, the HRC has you covered.