Voices: How the Blue Ridge Pride Pageant was saved

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From L to R: Ida Carolina (Miss Blue Ridge Pride 2015 and Pageant Director) Jasmine Summers (Miss Blue Ridge Pride 2019), and Natasha Noir Nightly (Miss Blue Ridge Pride 2018). Photo by Temple Nightshade.

Govinda is a local photographer and drag enthusiast documenting LGBTQIA + art who lives in WNC.

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The Blue Ridge Pride Pageant is a treasured part of Asheville culture. It brings together so many in our community, whether they identify as LGBT or not! The dazzling spectacle has truly become seasoned by Asheville’s flavors of openness, artistic expression, and diversity. It is one of the few pride pageants in the nation to be open to drag queens, kings, and things, making it as unique and eccentric as our town’s reputation! The Blue Ridge Pride pageant has been a highlight of our local Pride’s festivities every year since 2009 – but this year might’ve been its last if not for the outpouring of support from the Asheville drag community.

Asheville has become well known for many things, and drag, surprisingly, is one of them. Yes, way out here in the mountains of North Carolina there is a steadily growing drag community – and locals seems to love it, much to the pleasure of bars, nightclubs, and even more unique establishments that now feature regular drag shows. There is now a drag show to be had almost every single night of the week in Asheville, and the audiences are growing. These performers contribute their art to our community through drag brunches, campy burlesque, and comedy shows on every side of town. When the community learned that the Blue Ridge Pride Pageant was in peril of being cancelled, local queens and drag fans organized a meeting with Blue Ridge Pride to express how much the pageant meant to them.

What the community discussed at that meeting was exactly what I saw at the pageant itself. The brand new Tina McGuire Theater at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts was packed with all sorts of Asheville locals, families and friends of all ages, and folks who traveled just for the event. The air hummed with excitement as the pageant began, a showcase of performers from the WNC drag community. The pageant drew together entertainers and artists from nearly all venues in Asheville (which is really quite a few!) and represented both the diverse styles of the performances as well as the different LGBTQIA+ communities present in our town. The crowd cheered and tears of joy were shed throughout the night, which culminated in the crowning of Jasmine Summers as the new Miss Blue Ridge Pride.

Ida Carolina, AnnaTomical - Miss Blue Ridge Pride 2017, Natasha Noir Nightly, Coco Couture - Miss Blue Ridge Pride 2009 - Temple Nightshade
From L to R: Ida Carolina, AnnaTomical (Miss Blue Ridge Pride 2017), Natasha Noir Nightly, Coco Couture, and Jasmine Summers. Photo by Temple Nightshade.

With such a marvelous bouquet of diversity and artistic expression featured in one event, the pageant truly represents what I believe the young folks call Asheville’s Vibe. We are a welcoming community, one that supports LGBTQIA+ people, and we are committed to celebrating the arts as well as our diverse community. We have made this a unique strength of Asheville, and it shines out to inspire and uplift LGBTQIA+ people everywhere, not unlike our new Miss Blue Ridge Pride’s crown.

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Jasmine Summers, Miss Blue Ridge Pride 2019. Photo by Temple Nightshade.