Beloved community leaders Gary Cooper and Richard Hartgrove will receive the Bettie Naylor Visibility Award, and the co-founders of one of Austin’s favorite businesses, Tim and Karrie League of the Alamo Drafthouse, will receive the Equality Allies Award at the Human Rights Campaign Austin Gala Feb. 15, co-chairs Heather Beckel Luecke and Philip Wright have announced.
Now in its 18th year, HRC Austin’s annual Gala has been one of the most successful in the country, raising record funding to support civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, and receiving national recognition. The black-tie Gala will be held at Four Seasons Austin on Feb. 15, 2014, with a theme of “Love, Everyone”, highlighting that all love is equal.
Gary Cooper and Richard Hartgrove, partners for more than 28 years and legally married just last year, have been one of Austin’s most philanthropic couples since they moved to the city in 1995, holding numerous friend- and fund-raising events in their Westlake home for a wide variety of worthy causes, many related to the LGBT community, including Atticus Circle, OutYouth, AIDS Services of Austin, HRC, and Lambda Legal.
Individually, each has served on numerous boards: Hartgrove for ZACH Theatre, Austin Lyric Opera, Austin Museum of Art, and Emancipet among others; Cooper for ASA, OutYouth, and Triangle on Stage—the Gay and Lesbian friends of Austin Lyric Opera, where he also led the effort to raise $250,000, putting the Triangle name prominently on the Founder’s Wall. He and Hartgrove were also founders of the Roundtable, an informal coalition of LBGT organizations that started the first local Habitat for Humanity Pride Build.
“Gary and Richard are an inspiration to so many of us who are fighting the good fight for equality,” says Gala Co-Chair Wright. “Their community and social activitism has impacted countless lives, and their dedication to LGBT causes makes them the ideal choice for this award.”
Tim and Karrie League founded Alamo Drafthouse in Austin in 1997, and now have theaters in six cities with an additional seven theaters coming soon. Despite expanding across the country, the Drafthouse has remained a uniquely Austin business linked strongly to the community, providing space for numerous nonprofit and school fundraising events and granting many charitable donations. The Leagues have quietly supported HRC through financial contributions and hosting events in their home, as well as in the theater.
According to Gala co-chair Luecke, the Leagues have also backed diversity behind the scenes. “For years without any fanfare—just in the course of doing business— Tim and Karrie have promoted diversity at the Alamo Drafthouse through their culture, the people they hire, the Alamo's support of the community, and through regular and special programming. And it's this type of conscious 'doing the right thing' that is moving America irrevocably towards total equality,” Luecke says.
At the Gala on Feb. 15, awards will be presented by last year's honorees, Dave Steakley, producing artistic director of ZACH Theatre and Laura Hernandez, director of diversity marketing at AT&T. (A third award to be presented to a national figure in the fight for equality will be announced at a later date.)