When planning got underway last summer for the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Greater Philadelphia Dinner, organizers were looking forward to celebrating the start of Hillary Clinton’s presidential administration at the event.
“It was an interesting period where we were all very hopeful, all working on the campaign and planning for the gala. And then the election turned out the way it did,” said Nicole Svonavec, co-chair of the local dinner. “Everyone took time to process their feelings and see where things might be able to go, then just jumped into action.”
“It became even more important than ever to provide a place for people to be involved with us, and a time to be together,” said Katherine Sprissler-Klein, a member of the HRC Board of Governors.
The 21st-annual gala, themed “Equality Forward,” will be held from 5-10 p.m. Feb. 25 at Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, 1201 Market St. The event will feature dinner, dancing, a silent auction and remarks by HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Broadway star Billy Porter.
“The content of the program is going to be very topical,” Svonavec said. “We have several politicians attending who hadn’t attended in the past; we always have a political element but that’s even more important now.”
The volunteer steering committee reached out to 105 local politicians to both invite them to the event and establish a relationship for future partnerships, Svonavec noted.
About 550 people are expected to attend the dinner. The annual silent auction, which features more than 300 items in 125 packages, will for the first time this year feature an online-bidding component, so guests can up their offers even during dinner.
Fundraising generated will support a range of HRC’s efforts, Sprissler-Klein said.
“With every cabinet nominee, we’re getting the word out, talking to our friends on the Hill, building bipartisan support the best we can in a tough climate,” she said.
HRC recently organized a large coalition of parents of transgender children to lobby against discriminatory policies, is monitoring and working to stem the rise of anti-LGBT state legislation and is concentrating on building partnerships with allies.
“We are standing with our progressive brother and sister organizations,” Sprissler-Klein said. “Part of what it means to be a participant in progressive causes is being an active partner across a lot of different causes. Everyone’s identity is intersectional: being LGBTQ, you may also be Muslim, a person of color. We are mindful of intersectionality.”
The organization is also mindful that the gala has a higher price point, with tickets starting at $100.
HRC will host an official after-party, “Party with a Purpose,” 10 p.m. Feb. 25 at Voyeur, 1221 St. James St. There will be a suggested donation of $10 at the door, along with drink specials and performances by Aurora Whorealis, Bev, Haus of Ham, Sutton Fearce, VinChelle and Tiel.
Svonavec said the event will be an enjoyable night of fun and networking, but this year will take on added significance, given the political climate.
“There’s always a good reason to have members of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community and allies come together but this year it’s even more important for the community to support one another and hear updates about how HRC is preparing for what may come in the future.”
For more information or tickets, visit http://bit.ly/2kIDzTl.