On April 17, the 35th Annual GLBTQ Dinner, coinciding with the upcoming NAB Show, is bound to make some feel nostalgic.
The origins of what is now known as the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Broadcasters first gathered at NAB in 1978 at Fitzgeralds Hotel and Casino (now The D) in Las Vegas.
The year 1978 was a dramatic one in gay and lesbian history: The rainbow flag emerged as a symbol of gay pride, and Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to office in a major city, was assassinated by Dan White.
Since the late ’70s a lot has changed for GLBTQ Americans — on the macro level, with anti-discrimination laws and gay marriage in some states, and on the micro level, with organizations like NAGLB, which adopted its more formal title in 1992 and began to welcome more women to the fold as their numbers grew — standing now at approximately 200 people on the mailing list.
Lyle Henry, who helped organize the gathering and kept it going all these years, won’t take credit as founder. “A bunch of gay guys just started going out to eat on Tuesday evenings,” he says.
Still, Henry has kept it going all these years, keeping NAGLB steadfast in its casual nature — in contrast to the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, which has a staff based in Washington, a board of directors and membership dues.
NAGLB is simply “a night to kick back and not have a corporate dinner. Let your hair down,” Henry says.
Not that all shop talk gets left at the door.
“Many high-powered tech people are gay,” he says. “You stand around the pool … and all you hear is talk about what people are doing in their station, which audio processor is the best, where you can get the best value, which companies provide the best service.”
Semi-retired now, Henry (whose consulting handle is “Radio Doctor”) works in Palo Alto, Calif., and has done multiple installations of FMeXtra, an alternative digital FM system.
Every year, the dinner is held in a “relevant landmark,” according to co-organizer Frank Martin, a radio/television consulting engineer. Memorable locations throughout the years were Atlanta’s Cheshire Motor Inn and Sin City’s Hamburger Mary’s (now closed) and FreeZone.
This year’s event, will take place at the Blue Moon Resort, with a social hour starting “any time you can get there” after the show floor closes at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served 7 p.m. The catered buffet-style meal is $20 (alcoholic beverages are extra). Approximately 40 people are expected to attend. Allies of the GLBTQ community — friends, associates — are also welcome.