Rainbow Café’s Gala set for November

Former Majority Leader Greg Harris and advocate Dion “Dusty Lion” McNeal are the keynote speakers.

CARBONDALE – The Rainbow Café LGBTQ Center’s annual gala is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 4, at the Garden Grove Event Center.

This year’s event will feature former Illinois House Majority Speaker Greg Harris and Dion “Dusty Lion” McNeal as keynote speakers.

Harris was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2006 and was Majority Leader of the House of Representatives until 2023. He served as State Representative for the 13th District which includes parts of Uptown, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, North Center, West Ridge and Bowmanville. Harris is the first out gay person in Illinois to become a member of Legislative Leadership. He served as Chairman of the Rules Committee, and the chief budget negotiator for House Democrats.

McNeal is an advocate, an entrepreneur, and a public speaker. They have served on the Illinois HIV Integrated Planning Council as community co-chair, AIDS United Community Expert Council for the Racial Justice Index, was awarded Future Leader by PrideIndex, and is recipient of the Artist of Art Alliance Illinois’ #LCreativeFutureFund. McNeal is also a graduate of the Black AIDS Institute’s HIV Science and Treatment certification course.

Rainbow Café Executive Director Carrie Vine said that the gala is both a fundraiser and a celebration.

“The Gala is when we have big announcements and it is also our biggest fundraiser of the year,” she said.

The event is entering its eleventh year, starting as a small event at the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, but has grown in the last few years.

“Last year we were around 175, but I expect to be at least 200 to 300 in attendance this year,” Vine said. “I’ve already started collecting auction items and I am setting a goal of $30,000 this year.”

Tickets for tables of eight are available now at this link, with single tickets and auction items becoming available closer to the event.

Entertainment and auction items will be announced in the coming weeks. The gala will be at the Garden Grove Event Center on the east side of Carbondale.

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