By Jonathan Reitan, PQ Monthly
The “Fire & Ice” themed Q Center Winter Gala was held over the weekend to a sold out crowd at Northwest Portland’s Castaway event center. Members of Oregon’s LGBTQ community, representing every spectrum of the rainbow, were greeted at the doors by fire dancing street performers and volunteers ready to collect credit card numbers.
As Bears mingled with business leaders and royalty from the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court chatted with politicians, members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence sold raffle tickets at $100 a pop (for a chance of your pick from the live auction items), and drinks were flowing courtesy of Absolut Vodka and Hip Chicks Do Wine.
Once guests found their seats, the delectable three course meal started, accompanied by soulful background music of two-time Grammy Award winner Matt Alber. The evening’s emcees were none other than KGW’s Reggie Aqui and Stephanie Stricklen, who provided witty banter and announced guests and speakers including newley elected Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Q Center Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones.
Those with the fatter wallets and higher credit limits enjoyed bidding on many live auction items ranging from a whale watching trip to the San Juan Islands, a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams $5,000 shopping spree, vacation packages to Hawaii, New Orleans, Vancouver, B.C., a Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival VIP package, an L.A. weekend package which included tickets to the “Tonight Show,” and several other auction packages.
But the real reason the crowd gather that night was evident as a video was shown profiling a teen who had taken advantage of the resources offered by the Sexual and Gender Minority Resource Center (SMYRC), a program of Q Center. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house at its conclusion, which was the perfect time to announce and accept bids for Q Center’s capital campaign drive. It was humbling and exciting to watch as hands were raised across the room who were willing to donate anywhere from $100 to $5,000.
What is a gala without an awards ceremony? Q Center staff and board members took the time during their annual celebration and key fundraiser to honor those in the community who are major players in what goes on at Q Center. Award recipients included: Moral Ink (Corporate Excellence Award), Cupcake Jones (Q Means Business Award), Natalie Mayorga (Volunteer of the Year), and Harold Strong aka Rose Empress XXXI Cicely (Robert Speltz Community Service Award).
As dinner, dessert, bidding and awards concluded, it was time to dance the night away and celebrate the success of the evening — Q Center Public Relations and Innovations manager Logan Lynn estimated that the night’s efforts brought in about $150,000.
“It was a really great night and a perfect kick-off to our capital campaign,” Lynn said.