Rafael Silva, left and Gus Kenworthy

Olympic medalist will receive Birch Award; Lone Star 9-1-1 actor will receive Vanguard Award


Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy and actor Rafael Silva are the two newest additions to the lineup for the 2022 Black Tie Dinner, Black Tie officials announced this week. Kenworth, who won a silver medal in slopestyle skiing in the 2014 Olympics, will receive the 2022 Elizabeth Birch Equality Award at the dinner, presented by PNC Bank Sept. 24 at the Sheraton Dallas hotel. Silva, best known for his role as Carlos Reyas on 9-1-1: Lone Star, will receive this year’s Vanguard Award.

“We are excited to welcome and honor Gus Kenworthy and Rafael Silva at our 41st Black Tie Dinner,” said Black Tie Senior Co-Chair Terry Loftis. “Both of these LGBTQ advocates and trailblazers are committed to the advancement of access, inclusion and diversity of our community here in North Texas and across the country.”

Kenworthy came out on the cover of ESPN Magazine in 2015, making him the first openly gay professional athlete in any action sport.

He went on to make history at the 2018 Olympics as one of the first two openly gay men — alongside Adam Rippon — to compete for the U.S. in a Winter Olympics. During those Games in Pyeongchang, Gus kissed his then-boyfriend on live television — a significant moment for the visibility of LGBTQ athletes and sport communities alike.

Earlier this year, Kenworthy started the Worthy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on giving back to the LGBTQ community.

In 2019, he participated in the AIDS/LifeCycle ride, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, raising $249,745 for the organization. He also works with the Trevor Project, which focuses on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth; with the Happy Hippie Foundation which focuses on homelessness and LGBTQ rights, and with GLSEN, which works to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment.

“I am excited about coming to Dallas for Black Tie Dinner and honored to receive the Elizabeth Birch Equality Award,” Kenworth said. “To join the others that have received this honor — including another Olympian, Greg Louganis — is certainly humbling. The work of Black Tie Dinner in support of the numerous North Texas LGBTQ beneficiaries and their national beneficiary, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation is more important than ever. Thank you for letting me be a part of it.”

Best known for his role as Carlos Reyes in 9-1-1: Lone Star, which premiered its third season on Jan. 3 this year, Silva has also appeared in an episode of the series Madame Secretary and in the film Fluidity, as well as a couple of short films and a webseries called The Corps. Born in Brazil, Reyes had intended on a career in the field of animal care. But after he moved with his family to the U.S. at the age of 13, he started acting when he was in high school to get over his fear of public speaking. He began his acting career in earnest after graduating from Pace University in New York City.

Kenworthy and Silva join a list of previously-announced program guests that includes actor Colman Domingo, who will receive the Media Award; actor Ryan O’Connell, who will receive the Visibility Award recipient, and Dallas activist Robert Emery, who will receive the 2022 Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

In its first 40 years, Black Tie Dinner has raised and distributed more than $27 million dollars to numerous local organizations serving the needs of the LGBTQ community locally and to the Human Rights Campaign Fund. Black Tie is in the final stages of planning the 41st gala event and looks forward to surpassing last year’s record giving amount, officials said. For more information, visit BlackTie.org.