Chaz Bono will receive this year’s Elizabeth Birch Equality Award, co-chairs of the 2012 Black Tie Dinner announced today. The award will be presented as part of the 31st annual event benefiting North Texas gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender supportive organizations and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. This year’s dinner will be on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.
To honor national leaders, and in recognition of the inspirational leadership of former Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Elizabeth Birch, this award is given to an individual, organization or company that has made a significant contribution of national scope to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Elizabeth Birch received the first such award, as well as the distinction of having this recognition renamed in her honor. Past recipients of the Birch Award include Showtime Networks/Robert Greenblatt, Alan Cumming, Sharon Stone, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, Judy Shepard, American Airlines and last year, decorated veteran Eric Alva.
Chaz Bono is a GLBT rights advocate, author and speaker. Most recently, Chaz received the GLAAD Media Award and was honored for his OWN documentary, Becoming Chaz, which chronicled the struggles of his gender reassignment journey. He also received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is given by GLAAD to a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender entertainer for promoting equality. Chaz embarked on uncharted territory last fall when he appeared on Dancing With The Stars.
Born Chastity, to entertainers Sonny and Cher Bono, Chaz came out as a lesbian to his parents at 18 in 1987. He did not come out publicly until April 1995 in an interview with The Advocate, the national gay and lesbian news magazine. Chaz has contributed as a writer-at-large to The Advocate and became spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, promoting National Coming Out Day. Chaz also served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
“While Chaz has found fulfillment in his work as a national activist, one of his greatest values in the GLBT community lies in reaching out and raising awareness on a grassroots level among young minds,” said Black Tie Dinner Co-Chair Chris Kouvelis. “Via his high national profile, Chaz continues to create visibility, increase awareness and impact change for transgender issues.”
Chaz has written three books, including Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, a groundbreaking account of a 40-year struggle to match his gender identity with his physical body and his transformation from female to male. “As early as I had memory and consciousness, I was a boy,” Chaz told Oprah Winfrey in 2011.
Other books include Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, and Their Families, which is based on Chaz’s own experiences as well as the experiences of about a dozen other gay people and their family members; and The End of Innocence: A Memoir.
“Black Tie Dinner is proud to honor Chaz for candidly sharing his personal journey of gaining acceptance from his family and for proceeding with his transition in the public eye,” Black Tie Dinner Co-Chair Mitzi Lemons said. “Chaz’s moving struggle reverberates profoundly for anyone to whom authenticity matters.”
Black Tie Dinner Inc. is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender supportive organizations through a premier event of empowerment, education and entertainment in partnership with the community. The event has been headlined by local and national celebrities and leaders such as Maya Angelou, Gov. Ann Richards, Geena Davis, Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Martin Sheen and, most recently, Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, multi-platinum recording artist Taylor Dayne and Caroline Rhea as master of ceremonies.
Black Tie Dinner Inc. began in Dallas in 1982 to help support the Human Rights Campaign Fund. There were 140 guests at the first dinner, which raised $6,000. In 2011, there were 3,000 attendees and $1.142 million was distributed to 17 local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. In its 30-year history, the dinner has distributed more than $16 million.
“Affair of the Heart” is this year’s Black Tie Dinner theme. For more information on the event, including tickets and sponsorship opportunities, click here.