Bil Browning

CONTEST: Win 2 Tickets to HRC NYC Gala

Filed By Bil Browning | January 28, 2011 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Contests
Tags: gala event, HRC, HRC gala dinner

Courtesy of MasterCard, this week we'll be giving away two tickets to the Feb 5 Human Rights Campaign's NYC Gala Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria. The prize does not include travel accommodations, so the winner will need to live in the NYC area. You'll be seated at the MasterCard table.

Many of you have hrc-logo.gifcomplained that the cost of attending one of HRC's galas keeps you from attending. (Tickets are $400 each.) You have questions you'd like to ask, people you'd like to mingle with, or just want to hear for yourself what's said. MasterCard realizes that in today's economy, it makes it harder for some in our historically underemployed community to attend. To help make the event more accessible, they've turned to Bilerico Project for help.

The contest will run through Friday, January 28, 2011 at midnight Pacific time. You can only enter once - any duplicate entries will be deleted. Bilerico Project contributors are not eligible to win.

To win, just leave a comment on this post telling us why you think we should pick you and why you want to attend. This will not be a random drawing, I'll be picking the most persuasive comment to award the prize.

By entering, you give us permission to share your e-mail address and name with the firm handling the giveaway for MasterCard. They'll also be giving away tickets all week on Twitter; just follow them at @mastercard to try and win tickets that way too.

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Anthony Reuter | January 25, 2011 7:50 PM

I think you should choose me because after being the president of my high school's GSA, being involved in my college's queer student groups, and planning queer youth conferences in the midwest, I moved to NYC to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Sylvia Rivera Food Pantry at Metropolitan Community Church of New York. My year of service with the food pantry is coming to a close on February 4th and this would be the perfect way to end a year serving the LGBT community and those that are hungry and living with HIV/AIDS.
Using that time to also understand why HRC doesn't push for a larger LGBT agenda that includes oppressions that face many LGBT people, especially hunger, HIV/AIDS, racism, and economic inequality would be especially useful in my continued work towards intersectionality.
I'm extremely interested in connecting my continued work with the food justice movement to the LGBT movement and I think the HRC Gala would give me a great opportunity to meet more people who are involved in the LGBT community.

Brad Powles | January 25, 2011 7:57 PM

I definitely want to go! I'd pay for my own ticket, but I got laid off last August and I've been scraping by on unemployment ever since. I've been going CRAZY in my apartment, applying to tons of jobs every week, but seldom hearing anything back. I've also applied to volunteer at many organizations, but it seems that there must be an overabundance of people wanting to help, because I don't hear back from them either. Please send me to the gala! I'll even write about it afterward!

This is the most disgusting give-away you have ever had.

Are you sure Monica? Personally, I'd love to see a transperson win this, wouldn't you?

Can't be me. Even if I wanted to go, I couldn't get there. If you want, go for it. I would think it would be perfect if you won, given how think about Joe and HRC. Personally, I would rather win SRS in Mexico then this.

One to Chuck Knipp and the other to RuPaul...

or are they already comped as the entertainment which HRC will use to claim that its a trans-inclusive event?

Becky, there will kind of be a de facto trans person in attendance... the HRC Gala is going to feature a performance from the musical "Pricilla Queen of the Desert" in which, as I'm sure you know, a trans woman is one of the main characters. And just because that character happens to be portrayed by a gay man doesn't mean they aren't honoring their lil' tranny friends any less. :)

don't care, and here i thought HRC was ripping us off here in NC, but I guess having at WA and having to pay for all those fit waiters,

but just why does the winner have to live in NY, maybe the winner would like a reason to travel to NY.

If you're willing to pay your own travel and accommodations, I don't think there'd be a problem. I just didn't want someone from Topeka entering and being upset that the plane tickets to NYC weren't covered.

This is wrong in so many ways.

My fave though is 'you will be sitting at the MasterCard table'...

Talk about 'Gay Inc' and 'A gays'...

It would be easy for me to get there! It would be almost worth totally coming out! Guess that I would ask Joe to apologize for his 2007 lie to the T people! I would have to spend a dinner with Gay Inc.? Yuck! I don't want those tickets! Rebecca Juro would be a great person to go! But your rules throw her out! HRC & MasterCard would not want a T person at their table anyways!
Thanks but no thanks!

Wow. Talk about kicking a gift horse in the mouth, and/or no good deed goes unpunished.

I get that HRC has some unsavory aspects to it. But when your attendance at their event doesn't put money in their pockets, or take it out of yours, how can you object? Your attendance will not lend them any legitimacy because they don't need it.

But your presence gives you the opportunity to network and to educate. And frankly, it's a nice treat to spend an evening with interesting speakers in a beautiful place with well dressed people. It's also fun being in a crowd where you're the majority.

Mastercard thinks it's showing support for the GLBT community, and that's a good thing, too. They don't know the difference between the politics of the different organizations. So to harp on their role in this is also silly. Somebody has to pay the bills, and it might as well be a corporation that many of us has supported at one time or another in our lives.

BTW, this isn't an entry for the tickets, as I can't get anywhere near NYC. I did go to the first HRCF dinner in NY in 1983 or 84. Vice President Walter Mondale was the keynote speaker, and was running for president. It was thrilling that the community was garning that level of attention for the first time in history. I'm glad I had the opportunity to see it.

I'd to attend and network on behalf of agencies working to provide resources for LGBT-specific and -inclusive domestic violence services. Domestic violence affects 1 out of every 4 LGB folks and 1 out of every 2 trans folks in their lifetimes, but there are still significant barriers for LGBT folks receiving safe, culturally competent services from mainstream programs.

(Learn more at or

Ask sarah jessiparker

I was going write an essay, but after reading Anthony's post I think he should go.

Hi Everyone, The table is sponsored by the GLBT employee resource group of MasterCard. MasterCard PRIDE members wanted to share the event with members of our community. This is a genuine offering from the members and the company. We recognize that the event is a fundraiser and not everyone can afford to donate during hard times like these. This was the employee members offering up our own seats for others to attend.

As an openly gay man, I am very proud to work for MasterCard, a company who has supported diversity and GLBT equality in the workplace long before it was popular. We are excited to be helping someone attend who otherwise would not be able to, including G L B and "T".

Good luck to everyone who posts a compelling reason why Bilerico Project should pick you and why you want to attend.

Warm Regards,
Brian B-)

OK - I think my general feelings about the HRC and most national GLB groups are known - in case there is any question - I'm unimpressed with the lot of them (and that's about as civil as I can be on that topic).

All this aside, it appears this is a genuine offer by a group who really wants to provide access to an event to a person who wouldn't otherwise be able to attend. Brian, I hope you can understand where the resentment and snark (particularly from trans people) comes from and not take this as an attack or a personal slam against you or your group.

Om Kalthoum | January 26, 2011 6:49 PM

Hi everyone! First time poster here!!!

Gosh, you sure a whiny bunch. Whaa! I hate HRC! Whaa! How dare you give away free stuff! Whaa! Master Card. Whaa! I can't afford to go!

Can someone tell me where all the Happy People go? These LGBT blogs are getting to be so depressing.

Yours sincerely,
an old Dyke

Ah - you're happy and don't complain - except you're not happy & are complaining.

Do sockpuppets get in for free?

pick me so i can rip up the tickets and flush them down the toilet as to save any contestants the misery of attending said event...

I'd love the chance to see what exactly the HRC does at these events. I'm not going to lie, I've never been a huge fan of the HRC, as I think they tend to take a more passive (weak) approach to equality activism than I'm comfortable with. But, I'm also open to the idea that getting a more first-hand view (at an event I'd probably never be able to afford attending myself) might change my perspective.

If I win can I give my tickets to some homeless NYC drag queens? Outrageous drag queens?

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 28, 2011 2:48 PM

I like outrageous.

But outrageous or not, no one deserves to be punished attending a HRC function.

Talk about 'cruel and unusual'.

Have you ever been to an HRC dinner, Bill? Or do you think that you're just being clever by calling it cruel and unusual punishment?

I would love an opportunity to attend...and an excuse to go to NYC (I've never been).

Free tickets are awesome. Below is my haiku request for the chance to go. Thanks :)

tickets and trannys
few and far between access
MC bridge the gap

I just moved to New York 3 weeks ago from the midwest and am currently unemployed looking for work. I'm a dance artist looking to create my own queer dance collaborative, a safe space for queer dancers/choreographers to open up new perspectives on dance and the politics of representation. I cannot afford to go to the HRC gala on my own, and while I do not always agree with the HRC and their hegemonic proclivities, I feel going to this gala would be a great way to connect with fellow activists, community members, and donors.

My undergraduate days were committed to queer, feminist, and postcolonial theory and I would jump at any chance to inject a new voice, a new perspective, and a new breed of HRC members whose political goals strive to demolish oppression rather than give in to heteronormative dreams and desires.

Edgardo Velez | January 27, 2011 4:00 PM

Because I never win anything and this would be like winning the lotto!!!!!!!!!!

I am applying because I am a social worker whose professional focus is in LGBTQI Issues. This is also my personal focus as I have been volunteering with and marching/rallying for equality since I was 13. I am a hetero ally and I use that platform to be the allied member of many equality organizations, as well as representing trans groups at events when people aren't open enough to listen to the words from a trans person. I have trekked to DC to march, picketed on the steps of 3 states' statehouses, and live my life overall in ways that encourage equality and acceptance.

At the present time, I am integrating equality training to those I work with and including more inclusive material for the clients I work with. At all times, I provide a safe space for clients to discuss their issues and I continue to read and professionally review any LGBTQI literature written meant for social work professionals.

I'd love the opportunity to be included in such a monumental event and to be surrounded by others whose hearts and minds are open and equal. It'd also be a great way to meet others who will, like me, be attending the 3rd Annual Marriage Equality NY event on 2/8!

Thanks so much for considering me, for all the project does, and to everyone who enters because I consider them my family members in our equality family. Congrats to us all for the work we do and to all who live their lives proudly!

I'd love to attend the gala in my capacity as the most adamant LGBTQ ally ever! I am strongly committed to equality on all levels and ensuring that we move, as quickly and efficiently as possible, towards a society in which civil rights are the same across the board and that where marriage is concerned, this "separate but equal" civil union situation is vanquished in favor of full marriage rights for all. I would be proud to fly in my best friend from Atlanta, where her rights as a lesbian are basically nil, and stand together with her as my plus one, my all-but-blood sister, and the inspiration for my vehement and unyielding support of the entire LGBTQ community's members and ideals.

Ok - other than basic human rights, I am not really sure that anyone should or deserves to win just seems to minimize the relevancy of the really important access to food, water, shelter, health care and to be who one was born to be. I'm not trying to be self-righteous's just that I really care about these things and don't want to expend energy where it doesn't do the most good.
That being said, without listing the things I've said or done toward the advancement of human rights for all people... caring in particular about the shameful way people who don't gender identify according to tradition & expectation are treated, this is something I would like to attend & participate in.
Perhaps as a clergy person (yes, I said it), who is also at the moment wrestling with her place in life and how I have been called to serve, I see this as a) an opportunity to meet new people and maybe find direction for my ministry and b) I'd just really like a night out. Nice food, dress, people, it would make for a great way to get through the rest of this winter.
Thanks. Peace - Shalom - Saalem and all other ways to say this.

I would like to attend this event for a number of reasons. I am a graduate student in biomedical anthropology at the University of Binghamton. I would really like to make a career in non-profit organizations because my ultimate goal is to make a real difference in this world that we live. I am hoping that through this major I will be equipped with the skills to do so. By attending the event I will be given the opportunities to forge connections that could make this possible. Needs are not just found in the third world, but also in the world around us. There are many health related issues that those in the GLBT community suffer with that need to be addressed. To complete this program I am required to do an internship, and I would like to do one that is not only going to set me on the road to making a tangible difference but one that is going to make a difference during it's duration. This event can forge connections, bring new information and make this dream more tangible. I hope you will consider me for this opportunity as I search for a place to use my skills and try to improve the quality of life.

Thank you!

Kyle Graham | January 27, 2011 4:22 PM

I am a gay college educated African American that lives in the heart of New York City. As the first member of my family to graduate college and start my own company, my success has much to do with the contributions, commitment and resources provided by the Human Rights Campaign.

I would love to use the Human Rights Campaign Gala as another opportunity to embed myself in the mutual exchange with other activists to further educate my partner and I on ways to ensure basic equal rights within our home, work place and entire GLBT community.

Erin Emerick | January 27, 2011 5:10 PM


I think it is exciting that you are offering this opportunity. I have been a member of HRC since a July training I attended in NYC a few years ago. At that time I had twenty dollars in my pocket and could barely afford to eat before I flew home the next day. A very kind HRC rep approached me on the street and asked me to join. Even though I was flat broke I had always believed in equal rights, especially marriage equality for all, and though I was broke, I knew it was time to put up or shut up. The money came out a few days later so I made a monthly commitment.

I certainly am not the HRC's most wealthy contributor. I work with children with special needs and have a limited income. But I have been a loyal one. Through layoffs, through working full time for a half time salary (to help a school for Autism develop a new program) I have not stopped giving since that hot July summer. Even when I was laid off this summer, and relocated to NYC with less than a 1000 dollars in my pocket, and no unemployment yet, I kept supporting the cause. Happily I found a job in a month and have been able to stay! I am proud to have helped the HRC with their work through it all – what I could.

And I have been happy to have stayed, even when my small monthly gift was hard to dig up, especially during the work to repeal DADT. I would love to celebrate these HRC victories in person.

Thank you for your consideration. Erin

Randi Rivera | January 27, 2011 9:54 PM

I'm going to keep it simple cause i could easily write a thesis...all I will I am a baby boomer and a member of the WE generation...having been a strong advocate for human rights since the 60's...arecent one of my projects is my advocacy for the rights of the mentally ill...having lost a daughter...due to medical neglect...she never aske to be born with a chemical imbalance of the i fought long and hard to get Timothy's Law passed...for mental health parity when it comes to insurance. I have a tendency to speak for those who have no voice..and i strongly believe in "Paying it Forward".

Well, I'm in NYC, so I could enter, but I'd probably just pull a queer Joe Wilson during Solmonese's speech ("YOU LIE! And that 40 ft. tall glamour shot projected behind you is TACKY!"). Better to keep out of it since you have so many other deserving entrants...

jeff mcmorris | January 28, 2011 12:24 PM

I would love to attend with my partner. We are from upsate New York and have been together for 6 years. 2 years ago we adopted 3 boys and continue to foster parent. We are planning on getting married in May. I would talk about and be a face for gay parenting. I would ask why we have to go to Vermont to be married instead of New York and what the HRCs plans are for promoting equality in New York. Finally, we could use the trip to the city (without the kids) as a break for us and a chance for a honeymoon.

After watching the HRC dinners on youtube for the past countless years I would love to go in person. To sit with and experience such a great institution with so many inspirational supporters would be amazing. The HRC does amazing work and I am always proud to show off their logo.

I love seeing their status updates on facebook and watching Joe Solmonese leadership. I have watched his Stephen Colbert interview many times and it still makes me laugh.

HRC has helped and my boyfriend and me to overcome our personal tribulations and we would be proud to attend this years event.

Going to the HRC gala dinner and partaking in this grassroots movement which has helped so many people come out and be true to theme selves and to the world would be one of the highlights in my life.

I would like to be picked because through the aid of this contest I could actually attend the most important fundraiser for the LGBT community of the year.

I have loved watching the HRC dinners from my home these past couple of years. I can't believe Modern Family, Lady Gaga and President Obama all came to the HRC last year! I'm so glad to see these amazing famous people supporting me and the people I care about.

HRC has helped the LGBT community in so many ways and has many more things to do. I would be so honored to experience their gala dinner and see what their new plans are and what their most proud recent accomplishments have been. HRC and my universities' LGBTA club have really helped me love myself and help explain to other people who I am and why there is no need to change. Through this giant community I have felt like a citizen rather than an outsider/minority.

Winning this contest would allow me to participate in an event that I would never be able to do on my own.
I live in New York and would love to attend this very formal dinner! I can't wait to see who is guest speaking at this event this year.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | January 29, 2011 3:46 AM

Remember, you did ask.

I'd never be invited to attend a dinner to raise money for Joes new spring wardrobe, whatever it's ostensible purpose. In any case I'd certainly never attend a charade sponsored by a group that fronts for the Democrats, whose 'leaders' rake in the money, who oppose an inclusive ENDA and who rough up movement veterans who disagree with their sellout policies. (1)

I'm not really into schmoozing with political and movement hustlers. Or watching it. Watching movement hustlers (who get rich at the expense of the movement) glad handing the political hustlers holding their leashes would lead to my becoming nauseous and uttering comments both sets of hustlers would find 'unsuitable in a forum such as this'.

That's counterproductive. I prefer organizing for direct and mass actions. That gets results.


I hope it was just a little bit clever. In any case here's a list of some of HRC's misleaders who don't worry overly much about the Depression:

Joseph Solmonese - Executive Director - $303,966 plus a couple of hundred grand or so from the HRC foundation

Cathy Nelson, Development Director $245,030

David M. Smith, Policy Director $245,030

Susanne Salkind, Management Director - $207,298

Marty Rouse, National Field Director - $184,631

Alison Herwitt - Legislative Director - $178,980

James Rinefierd - Treasurer - $169,213

(2) HRCs income dropped by about a sixth between 2009 - two years after the current depression began - and 2010. That coincided with a call to stop funding the DNC and it's front group, HRC. (3) Salaries for HRC misleaders didn't drop but were belatedly frozen.