The Human Rights Campaign has announced its 24th annual Nashville Equality Dinner, the state’s largest fundraiser for LGBTQ rights. This year’s dinner will again be held at the Renaissance Hotel downtown on Saturday, March 2, 2019, with reception and silent auction beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Dinner chairs Eric A. Patton, Katie Nipper, and Brittney Smith Reynolds reflected on the success of last year’s dinner and are looking forward to another record-breaking year. Nipper, the 2018 auction co-chair, and Smith Reynolds, the 2018 volunteer coordinator, stepped up as first-time dinner chairs for this year’s event. They join Patton who is chairing for the third year in a row.

A Different Kind of Dinner Committee

This is the first time the Nashville dinner chairs have been majority female, and Smith Reynolds is the first African American woman to chair this event.

“HRC Nashville’s commitment to diversity can be seen in our local steering committee. This year our membership now includes more women and people of color than ever before. We’ve worked hard to make this a welcoming, inclusive group that affords everyone a seat at the table. The local board of governors decided it was imperative for this commitment to reflect in our dinner leadership,” said Board of Governors member and Chair Emeritus, Meredith Fortney.

“Last year’s dinner was easily my favorite of all the dinners I have attended. Not only did we raise more money and welcome more guests than ever before, we brought home a ton of awards for our efforts.” said Patton.

Photos Courtesy of HRC Nashville

Nipper replied, “We were recognized at a national level for Dinner of the Year, Auction of the Year, Most Corporate Growth, Co-Chair Team of the Year, and several more awards from the Human Rights Campaign national organization.”

Smith Reynolds added, “Nashville received over 20 awards and certificates for our efforts last year, far surpassing anything we’ve done in years past. We are thrilled to show everyone what the 2019 dinner has in store.”

Key Sponsors Return

Bridgestone North America returns as the long-time presenting sponsor for the 2019 HRC Nashville Equality Dinner.

“Bridgestone has been a great partner and supporter of the Human Rights Campaign over the years. As a local pioneer in marketing to the LGBTQ community, it has been a leading donor to the equality fight from the very beginning. This year, Bridgestone is working harder to advance equality internally by using the Corporate Equality Index as the standard metric and working to advance equality for all employees. We’re honored to welcome Bridgestone back for a twelfth year as presenting sponsor,” Patton said.

Nettles, Belcourt to Be Honored

This year’s Ally for Equality Award Winner is fan-favorite Jennifer Nettles, a superstar entertainer on multiple platforms. Leading with her powerhouse vocals and vivacious energy, Jennifer released two critically-acclaimed Big Machine Records’ albums, in addition to back-to-back headline tours in 2016, followed by a run of holiday-themed dates. Jennifer makes up one-half of the multi-platinum duo Sugarland, alongside Kristian Bush.

The Belcourt Theatre will receive this year’s Community Leadership Award for its commitment to bringing LGBTQ films to Nashville. Films with LGBTQ themes are not always shown in mainstream theaters, which is how the Belcourt became a flagship safe space for our community to watch, learn, and grow through inclusive and diverse film.

“As a native Nashvillian, I’ve been going to the Belcourt ever since I was a child. When LGBTQ- centered films are released, they can be hard to find in larger chain theaters. Last year’s Boy Erased and The Miseducation of Cameron Post told stories of conversion therapy camps and the impact these experiences had on LGBTQ youth and their families. When no other theaters would show them, my friends and I went to see them at the Belcourt,” said Nipper.

Reynolds agreed. “They have been the home for movies about us and our community. This commitment to our community makes us feel welcome, wanted, and appreciated. They’ve supported the LGBTQ community in Nashville for a long time and we’re proud to honor their work in making a safe place for our community.”

Tickets for the 2019 HRC Nashville Equality Dinner are on sale now. To purchase, visit If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, donating to the silent auction or placing an ad in the dinner program book, please email

For more HRC coverage see Local HRC Steering Committee Recognized NationallyTy Herndon is the 2018 HRC Nashville Visibility Award winnerHRC’s Annual State Equality Index highlights Tennessee’s lag

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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