By Guy Barast
Eye on Equality
Can you believe it’s already October? As I sit here and contemplate the changing weather that is just outside the door, several thoughts run consecutively through my mind:
Summer is gone. Sure, we’ll still have the occasional warm day, but mentally, for most of us, the season has already changed.
Winter is just around the corner (Wait. Let’s not even go there just yet!).
And, it’s gala season again!
Yes! It’s time to get my evening wear to the cleaner, my best shoes not just shined but polished to a gloss, time to get ready to attend the galas, the benefits, the charity balls and other such events that crowd the calendar between now and the New Year.
Well, let’s be honest here. I don’t attend all of them. But I do make an effort to get to my fair share of these events, particularly those that are put on by our brother and sister LGBT organizations.
I encourage you to do the same.
Sure, we all know these events are fundraisers, first and foremost. But they’re so much more than that. They are terrific opportunities to make new friends and build networks. And, frankly, they’re usually a heck of a good time!
I know the fundraising aspect of these events can present a hurdle for many of us. But if you need to, just pick one event to attend. Even if you have to save a little or adjust your budget in order to afford the ticket, it will be worth it on many levels.
First of all, you’ll be supporting a worthwhile organization. There are so many great organizations in our community that work hard every day to make Michigan a better place for LGBT people. Choose one of them to support, buy that gala ticket, and make that work go a little farther!
Second, your taxman will thank you. That ticket you bought may not have been cheap, but take a moment to read the fine print on the other side. Whatever you paid above the Fair Market Value of any goods or services you received at the event – such as your dinner – is typically tax-deductible.
You’ll see old friends and acquaintances and you’ll probably make some new ones. And, in addition to supporting a cause that’s near and dear to you, you’ll undoubtedly have a great time!
In addition to all of the great events being put on by our fellow LGBT organizations, Equality Michigan’s own State Equality Dinner returns this fall to The Henry in Dearborn on Oct. 22. This event has an impressive history and was known as the State Dinner when it belonged to the Triangle Foundation. Attended by state and local politicians, activists, allies and prominent LGBT supporters, it became an important affair. The main focus was the presentation of the Catalyst Awards, given to people and organizations that have made significant contributions to LGBT equality in Michigan.
This year’s State Equality Dinner will build on those great traditions while offering an expanded format to the evening – giving you more opportunities to mingle, schmooze and network. It will include a VIP reception, open reception, dinner and silent auction, awards presentation and an afterglow celebration.
And if that’s not enough, civil rights icon Cleve Jones will present the keynote address and receive the Catalyst Award for Lifetime Achievement. Jones is the founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and co-founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He will share the stage with Emmy Award winning WDIV news reporter Hank Winchester, who will be our emcee for the evening.
We have so many great LGBT community organizations that are doing fantastic work and that need our help. Show your support by attending at least one or two events. If you just can’t do that, consider something else. Events require helping hands – pick one and volunteer your time. Whether you do one, the other, or both, it’s just one more way you can show your pride.