Commonwealth Dinner 2017 new purple

On April 1, 2017, more than 1,000 people attended the 14th Annual Commonwealth Dinner, presented by Altria Group, in Richmond.  Thank you to all who took part in the evening where we celebrated our victories, learned more about the challenges ahead, and honored our OUTstanding Virginians.

The energy at this year’s Dinner matched the vibrancy of Virginia’s LGBT community. Because of you, Equality Virginia raised almost $300,000 to help us safeguard equality’s momentum in the Commonwealth by standing up for LGBT Virginians at the General Assembly, furthering transgender visibility, and increasing pro-LGBT business participation.

If you missed this year’s soiree, we hope you will join us next year for the 15th Annual Commonwealth Dinner. Keep reading to find out about all the exciting things that happened Saturday night. A few photos are posted on our Facebook page, with more to come—be sure to check them out!

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We introduced more supportive elected officials than ever…


It’s easy to remember a time when support for LGBT issues was hard to find among our elected representatives, but on Saturday night we welcomed numerous public officials, including Congressmen Donald McEachin and Bobby Scott, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Virginia’s Attorney General Mark Herring and Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. We are grateful to have bipartisan support from many elected leaders, especially after 2017’s General Assembly session where our Senate passed nondiscrimination protections in housing and public employment, the only legislative chamber in the south to pass LGBT protections. While more work remains in the House of Delegates, together with these leaders, we are moving equality forward.


Terry McAuliffe

We honored Governor Terry McAuliffe as a Distinguished OUTstanding Virginian for his steadfast devotion to Virginia’s LGBT community. From his first day in office signing Executive Order #1 preventing discrimination against LGBT state employees to his most recent veto of SB 1324 (Carrico) and HB 2025 (Freitas) that would have harmed gay and transgender Virginians in the name of religious freedom, Gov. McAuliffe has shown his dedication to equality throughout the Commonwealth time and time again.


We recognized our OUTstanding Virginians…

Every year Equality Virginia shines a spotlight on those who have dedicated their lives to fighting for equality. The seven honorees this year have each been on the front-lines for fairness, everywhere from the classroom to the halls of Congress; they’ve helped usher in marriage equality and made life better for transgender youth and adults. These LGBT and allied individuals have educated, advocated, and demonstrated what it means to truly be an OUTstanding Virginian.

OUTVAs1-min (2)-min

With the help of Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, we honored these seven individuals who have made a major impact on Virginia’s gay and transgender community. The equality movement would not be where it is today if not for people like our 2017 OUTstanding Virginians.

Watch this video to meet the 2017 OUTstanding Virginians!

We thanked Gavin Grimm…

In addition to Gavin Grimm being honored as an OUTstanding Virginian, we also wanted a way to show how grateful, not just Equality Virginia, but also LGBT Virginians and their supporters are for all that he’s done in such a short time and on a national stage. Though for now, his case won’t be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, his selfless advocacy has greatly advanced transgender equality.


EV asked folks from around the Commonwealth to send us their tokens of appreciation to Gavin. We are overwhelmed by the responses which are still coming in. At the Dinner, we presented Gavin with a few of these thank-you notes, which we’re compiling into a book for him. There is still time to have yours included in the book! Visit here for more details.

We had some big winners…

Silent Auction5-min (2)Continuing in our tradition of years past, we held a silent auction featuring more than 60 fantastic items generously donated by businesses and individuals in Virginia and beyond. From original artwork and jewelry to hotel stays and dinners for two, home decor and theater tickets, there was a little something for everybody. You can check out those contributors here.

We also welcomed Delegate Ken Plum to again serve as auctioneer during our Live Auction! With his fast-talking skills at the podium and after feverish bidding, three lucky winners won a date night in Richmond, a corporate suite for the Washington Nationals, a 5-night stay in Provincetown, MA, and helped further Equality Virginia’s mission at the same time!



We were entertained…

Georgia Rogers Farmer4-min (2)

Cabaret singer Georgia Rogers Farmer delighted the crowd with a blend of pop, standards, and Broadway tunes. Some lucky guests were even treated to the hand-delivered baked goods from Georgia who took her show into the crowd. Ending with a real bang, appropriate for celebrating the victories we have achieved for equality, guests were even showered with confetti!




And we danced the night away…


Thanks to those who attended to learn about the OUTstanding Virginians, meet elected officials and everyday advocates from communities across the Commonwealth, and celebrate our accomplishments in style. Equality Virginia is fortunate to have so many Virginians standing up for equality. There is still work left to do to create an inclusive and welcoming Virginia, but we know that together, we will. Thank you to all who supported and shared in this incredible evening.

Thanks especially to Presenting Sponsor, Altria Group; Platinum Sponsors, Capital One, Nexus Services, and Weinstein Properties; and to all our additional sponsors listed here; to the dozens of volunteers who kept the evening running smoothly; and you, for making the 14th Annual Commonwealth Dinner a success!



Presenting Sponsor


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Platinum Sponsors


Boom 4A.2 52907 nexus-services

Weinstein Properties


Gold Sponsors


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Silver Sponsors


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Bronze Sponsors


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VIP Reception Sponsor




OUTstanding Virginian Sponsor


Silent  Auction Sponsor




Wine Sponsor




After-Dinner Dance Sponsor


Live Auction Sponsor


Nonprofit Sponsors


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