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Tiffany and Perabo at HRC gala
by Erica Demarest

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Golden Globe-nominated actress Piper Perabo and pop singer Tiffany headlined Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Chicago's annual gala Nov. 12 at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park, 200 N. Columbus Dr.

One of the largest LGBT fundraising events in the Midwest, the black-tie affair drew hundreds of guests from across the country. Following a cocktail reception and silent auction, attendees enjoyed a formal dinner program and awards ceremony.

HRC Chief Diversity Officer Cuc Vu opened the evening by highlighting recent political gains, including her own marriage to partner Gwen Migita. Vu stressed that re-electing Barack Obama should be HRC's biggest goal in 2012.

Perabo received the 2011 Ally for Equality Award to rousing applause. In addition to starring as a lesbian in two films ( Imagine Me & You; Lost and Delirious ) , Perabo has been actively involved with HRC for several years. She's also contributed to Cyndi Lauper's Give A Damn campaign.

"It's always a community that I reach out to because I think it's such an amazing [ cause ] ," Perabo told Windy City Times. "I romanticize so much, but it's like knights in shining armor—people that are fighting for love. It's so beautiful and powerful."

On the lesbian character ( Paulie ) she played in Lost and Delirious, which is the movie she credits with starting her LGBT activism, Perabo said, "They actually wanted me to read for a different character in the movie, and when I went in to read for the director, I was like, 'You have to see me read for Paulie.' I was so connected to that part…. It spoke to me so clearly that no one could stop me from doing it."

Two additional awards were distributed: Elmhurst College senior Ally Vertigan took home the GLBT Student Award, and Orbitz was honored with the Corporate Equality Award.

"As much as I've enjoyed this evening's dinner," CEO Barney Hartford told the packed room, "I hope that [ in the future ] doing the right thing and respecting the rights of all employees is just the way things are done, and we won't need to call out individual companies."

As official programming wrapped for the night, Tiffany took to the stage. She sang a mix of '80s hits and new material, eventually making her way to the dance floor to close with "I Think We're Alone Now" in the midst of a dance circle.

Grey Goose sponsored an after-party at JBar at the James Hotel.

Tickets to the event were $225- $350, with proceeds benefiting HRC operations. Marc Garcia and Kyle Klatt co-chaired the gala committee.

Photos by Kat Fitzgerald

( ) .

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