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February 29, 2008

BRAVO supporters enjoy nine mystery dinners


Columbus--The grand atrium of the Ohio Statehouse was transformed into a warm and welcoming space last weekend to host 150 people who gathered there before heading out to gourmet dinners across town.

The early evening reception opened the seventh annual “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” benefit for Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization. The February 23 event marked the group’s 11th year.

The festivities began with a cash bar, light hors d’oeuvres and presentation of three Community Service Awards.

Later, 60 guests moved on to nine homes around Columbus for private suppers. The conceit of the fundraiser is that nobody knows where he or she will end up, or with whom.

This year, celebrity guests also joined in, including Cuyahoga County commissioner Tim Hagen and his wife Kate Mulgrew (of Star Trek fame); along with State Sen. Steve Stivers and Franklin County commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy, both 15th District congressional candidates.

The Statehouse reception was emceed by two of Columbus’ preeminent drag performers, Paige Passion and Vivi Velure. WCMH Channel 4 news anchor and weatherman Marshall McPeek was the sidekick to their antics.

BRAVO board member Will Young received the first Community Service Award of the evening.

“Thanks to all of you for supporting BRAVO,” she said in accepting the award. She also thanked her fellow board members.

Longtime GLBT ally and Channel 4 anchor Colleen Marshall received the second award of the evening. She related an incident where a fan of hers had found out that Marshall had connections to the GLBT community. This person protested these ties that Marshall has. Marshall said that she met with this woman and told her that god loved everyone, even intolerant people. That got Marshall a rousing round of applause from the captive audience.

Mike Daniels, co-chair of the evening’s events, introduced Columbus City Councilor Mike Ginther as the third recipient of the Community Service Award. Ginther chairs council’s safety committee and was praised for being a longtime community ally. BRAVO received $30,000 from the city this year towards its mission of LGBT violence prevention and crisis intervention. Daniels said that Ginther worked hard for this and brought along the rest of council to support the group.

Ginther said that the award “belonged to all of council.” He also praised Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman for “setting high standards for the city and for the council.” Ginther said that they hoped to make “Columbus one of the top places for GLBT folk to love, work and raise families.”

Ginther also cited the February 12 slaying of gay teen Lawrence King at his school in California. He said that he understood how hard it is for many in the GLBT community and that without organizations like BRAVO things would be even harder.

The BRAVO board also handed out certificates of appreciation to all the other council members. They were received by councilor Priscilla Tyson who said, “I love you and you always have my support.”

BRAVO executive director Gloria McCauley said that she was incredibly blessed to have the kind of board she has had for the past 12 years.

“Ninety-nine point nine percent of our board take their job seriously,” McCauley said, “and they’re not just there to get their name out.”

McCauley added that the downturn in the economy in the last year has meant more struggles with raising funds to keep their work alive. In addition, federal, state and local funds towards violence prevention are being cut by 20 percent, she said.

“We are trying to keep funding at a level where we can adequately serve our community all over the state,” she added.

She said that education was one of their key goals because “the more we educate people, the less need for victim services.”

The evening also featured a silent and a live auction. McCauley said that BRAVO hoped to raise between fifteen and twenty thousand dollars.


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