“When’s the next Gentlemen’s Ball?”
An OPEN LETTER to YOU!
Everyone keeps asking us, “What’s the date of the next Gentlemen’s Ball?” and in the interest of being totally transparent with you, the honest answer is simple: We don’t know. We are elated to hear that so many of you are looking forward to the 2014 festivities, but harbor an equal amount of anxiety about it as well. As you may or may not know, The Gentlemen’s Ball is an extremely expensive event to produce and ticket sales only cover about half of the total cost so what it really boils down to is the need for increased monetary support.
Let’s play the numbers game. The first year it cost us about $50k to produce the ball. We received about $25k in ticket sales and sponsorships and $25k was our own investment (which we expected). The second year we upped the ante; it cost us approximately $65k. We received about $50k in ticket sales and sponsorships and $15k was our personal investment (although our goal was to just break even). Based on the numbers, we experienced tremendous growth over the course of the year but ultimately ended up in the RED. Unfortunately, that can’t happen again.
The Gentlemen’s Ball’s mission is to raise awareness and most importantly, MONEY, for various non-profit organizations that support the LGBT Youth who continue to endure the physical violence, mental anguish and gut wrenching shame that the overwhelming majority of us experienced while growing up and continue to battle. We also aim to celebrate the outstanding men in the black LGBT community who have overcome those adverse odds and can now stand tall in their truth. This event is one that is very near and dear to our hearts. In fact, it is more than an event, it is a MOVEMENT! We are very proud of the work that we have done over the course of the last two years and endeavor to continue that work with more dynamic initiatives in the future.
This movement is bigger than any one person or any one company. It’s about community. We know that many of you share the same passion for equality and unity that we do so we ask that you stand in this fight with us – together. For far too long, black gay men have been marginalized; bullied into a corner of shame and self-hate. The Gentlemen’s Ball is a vessel that is here to proclaim “NO MORE”! NO MORE will be humiliated, brow beaten, and physically attacked because of who we are. NO MORE will we be shackled by the debasing labels of queen or DL or f****T or sissy. NO MORE will we allow the belief that we are impulsive, sexual, disease-spreading creatures to plague the minds of the masses. We have a message for society; one that is rooted in truth. There is more to us than what is currently portrayed in the media. We are proud, productive, dynamic, educated, giving men in this societ y. We teach your kids, prescribe your medicine, fight for you in court, sell your houses, diagnose your sicknesses, and even lobby for your rights in the political arena. We support you in too many ways to name and it’s time we get that support in return.
In order to consistently produce the caliber event that you have come to expect from us, we need more sponsorship dollars! PERIOD. Millions and millions of dollars are given away each year by large corporations in the form of grants. Each year we apply and are either denied or outright ignored. The time has come for more corporations and businesses and PEOPLE to take stock in the black gay community; to invest in us as much as we invest in them. We spend money just like everyone else and we deserve the reciprocal support.
We can’t end this letter without addressing the lack of support in our very own community. Atlanta is BLACK AND GAY AS HELL! We SHOULD NOT face these types of challenges with such a strong presence. Why don’t we support each other? Don Lemon, Mayor Kasim Reed, Congressman John Lewis, to name a few, have all been asked to support The Gentlemen’s Ball by JUST SHOWING UP, but they have all declined. We even tried to PAY Don Lemon to host one year but our request fell on deaf ears. What are they all afraid of? Why won’t they support US but will run to similar events held in the White gay community? Are we not good enough for them? We are perplexed.
This is where we need your help. Many have suggested we setup a GoFundMe account or something of the like, but we say no. We believe our tickets are priced appropriately and that payment constitutes your monetary contribution as an attendee. It’s time for the businesses and corporations in our own backyard like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Delta, and Suntrust Bank to support the black LGBT community on a larger scale just as they support our white counterparts. It’s also time that our community leaders stand up and recognize us! If you share our passion, believe in our movement and demand the respect and support from mainstream society, share this post, forward it to potential sponsors, tweet about it, talk about it, send it to a friend that could help. All that we ask is for you to simply do anything you ca n to get the word out.
We are determined to bring you The Gentlemen’s Ball in 2014 and beyond, but we NEED your help to do so. Are you with us?
Juan & Gee