And we danced...
Pictured: Dancers from the sensual Cirque du Soleil show Zumanity made a very special appearance at the Human Rights Campaign 'Summer Chic' gala, which took place July 19 at the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker. Hundreds of attendees also witnessed a video greeting from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and a keynote speech from out actress Jane Lynch, who recently hosted the PBS special 'Out & Proud in Chicago.' Attendees were also greeted by trans-rights advocates protesting the event ( as they have protested many such HRC events around the country ) . Photos by Kat Fitzgerald; see more at www.WindyCityMediaGroup.com/photos/HRC2008-7-19WCMG-Kat%20F/ and www.MysticImagesPhotography.com .
The Human Rights Campaign's ( HRC's ) annual 'Summer Chic' fundraising gala was held Sat., July 19, at the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker. More than 580 supporters filled nearly every seat.
Amid the political endorsements and call for HRC supporters to be more politically active this election year, HRC Managing Director Susanne Salkind reminded the crowd of all the accomplishments the organization has helped spearhead in the political forum, such as the HRC-sponsored gay rights Democratic presidential debate held earlier this year.
'We are at a moment in history when education, policy, practical politics and the possibility of real change all align,' Salkind said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., addressed the attendees in a video message, calling for support in electing Sen. Barack Obama this November and in passing the Mathew Shepard Hate Crimes Protections Act as well as the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.
HRC Political Committee Chair Jason Held addressed the crowd about the importance of electing Sen. Obama—who recently received HRC's endorsement—and in passing the Illinois' civil-union bill, currently awaiting passage in the state legislature. 'HRC is working tirelessly to fight fear and hate-mongering at the political state and federal level by helping to elect fair-minded people and supporting legislation that benefits us all,' he said.
The silent auction offered a wide variety of items to bid on, from autographed hockey pucks donated by the Chicago Blackhawks to a lunch date with Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias ( valued at $500 ) , to name a few.
HRC also awarded this year's Chicago-based contributors to GLBT rights with Jenner & Block receiving the Corporate Equality Award, Test Positive Aware Network ( TPAN ) receiving the Community Equality Award and Jared Fox receiving the GLBT College Student Award to standing ovations.
Las Vegas-based Zumanity, billed as the 'sensual side of Cirque du Soleil,' provided the night's entertainment with a steamy dance performance before actress, activist and comedian Jane Lynch—a Chicago native—gave the closing keynote speech. She said this year was especially exciting because of the rise of gay rights and gay culture, socially and politically.
'We are not talking about special rights or excessive rights. We are talking about human rights,' Lynch said. 'We have come so far and the tide is turning in this country.'
About 20 protesters came out to the gala as well, saying transgender rights weren't being addressed as intensely by the HRC. They held picket signs outside the East Wacker entrance, saying, 'Equality includes 'T'' and 'put equal rights ahead of petty politics.'
HRC Director of Communications Brad Luna said there have been several protests concerning transgendered rights across the nation at HRC events but officials make it a point to speak with them at the picket lines, to see how they can address their concerns.