The Montrose Center’s Out for Good gala is back, live and in person, on December 3.
“First and foremost,” says the Center’s communications and marketing manager, Austin Ruiz, “it’s going to be the first time we will be back together in person.” The event was held virtually last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year,” says Ruiz, “it was supposed to be October 8 in honor of National Coming Out Day, but we were seeing cases of the delta variant rising across Harris County.” But as cases slowed and vaccine and booster-shot numbers increased, the Montrose Center’s board decided to [reschedule] the event for December.
Even so, the Center is asking participants to book tickets early and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event.
“But we will have rapid tests available that night,” Ruiz adds. To ensure social distancing, they will only sell tickets for less than half the capacity of The Ballroom at Bayou Place—which means you should book your tickets early. There will be limited seating outside on the balcony as well, and all staff and volunteers will be masked.
For those still being extra-careful, the Montrose Center will record the gala so donors and sponsors can view highlights during the following week. They will also receive a “Thank You” box of goodies to enjoy on the night of the event. “Last year we had cookies and Stoli vodka (a major sponsor of the Montrose Center), and various party favors for the donors,” says Ruiz.
Concerns about COVID are being taken seriously, as the two honorees this year are in the high-risk group for the disease due to their age. Dina Jacobs will be the recipient of the 2021 LGBTQ Community Vision Award. Jacobs has been a headlining drag queen for more than 55 years, winning over 70 pageant titles and spending countless hours performing and raising money for charity.
“Dina is an amazing performer who is still working,” says Ruiz. Jacobs is originally from Hawaii, and Ruiz says the gala will feature a Hawaiian theme to honor her, complete with hula dancers. Jacobs currently resides in the Montrose Center’s new LGBTQ-affirming Law Harrington Senior Living Center. Ruiz reports that Jacobs thinks living there “is like winning the gay lottery,” and a thank-you for all that her generation has been through in the struggle for queer rights. The Law Harrington Center features 112 one- and two-bedroom independent-living apartments for low-income individuals and couples who are 62 years and older. Additional features of the property include a social-services department managed by The Montrose Center, a geriatric primary-care clinic provided by Legacy Community Health, a group dining area, meeting and game rooms, a fitness center, dog park, and outdoor recreational spaces. Opened earlier this year, it is the first facility of its kind in Texas and the largest in the nation.
There will also be a special award presentation to Dalton DeHart, who was the 2020 Community Vision Award recipient. Since last year’s event was virtual, Ruiz says it is important to honor DeHart in person this year.
“We are really hoping this in-person event will be a celebration for both Jacobs and DeHart,” says Ruiz. DeHart has been a supporter of LGBTQ rights for decades, and is known for photographing almost every important event and milestone for Houston’s LGBTQ community.
Besides the sit-down dinner, entertainment, and testimonials, Emmy Award-winning television host and producer Debra Duncan will host the event once again. After hosting the virtual event last year, Ruiz looks forward to seeing her back in person.
While the event invitation requests business casual or cocktail attire, the Montrose Center wants everyone to be comfortable and express themselves. That means you’re welcome to come in drag, something sparkly and fancy, or just come straight from work.
VIP tickets start at $250, which includes a special reception at 6:00 p.m. Tables and sponsor opportunities range from $1,500 to $5,000. An after-party will follow the presentations.
Besides being a fun time, the gala benefits the Montrose Center, a leading full-service LGBTQ center that has been empowering Houston’s queer community since 1978 with a wide range of social, HIV prevention, and mental-health services.
What: Out for Good
When: Friday, December 3, at 7:00 p.m.
Where: The Ballroom at Bayou Place