When Dean Thullner founded the Brilliant! fundraising gala to benefit St. Paul’s Hospital, he wanted it break down barriers and ruffle some feathers.
“The magic of Brilliant! always was seeing surgeons dancing with drag queens and CEOs hanging out with hairstylists,” he said.
But Thullner recently stepped down from the annual hospital fundraiser, claiming Vancouver’s gay community is no longer represented.
“I was told that there would be absolutely no LGBT or same-sex couples holding hands at the runway for Brilliant! because the archbishop and some of the Catholic members may not appreciate it,” he said.
St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation President Dick Vollet said Thullner was never told to tone things down.
“The allegations that he levelled against the foundation are completely untrue,” he said.
Thullner and hundreds of stylists and designers raised more than $2 million over three years. The money initially went to mental health programs. The foundation later also focused on HIV/ AIDS and addictions.
This year, the production is leaving the Commodore Ballroom for a bigger venue, another sign, Thullner says, the event is abandoning its roots.
“I was told that they were moving into a new direction and that the most important thing was their investor-friendly demographic,” he said.
The foundation is looking for another creative director and said the LGBTQ community will be included.
“What we’re trying to do is make it more scalable, get it to a larger level to include more people from the community and make it a better product,” Vollet said.
Thullner is planning to fundraise for other non-profits.
– With files from Tanya Beja