Happy Pride Month, Asheville. 🌈
Brook here, and I’m a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. I remember my first Pride festival way back in the day when I was a young queer student at UNC Asheville. Along with the rest of the crowd, my friends and I marched through downtown, and I’ll never forget the sense of hope + power I felt cresting the top of Walnut St. and turning around to look at the streets below me filled with people. And since that time, I’ve enjoyed Pride celebrations elsewhere, but the ones I attended here at home are among my favorites.
Even without any lived personal experiences of bigotry and inequality, there’s a lot to take in and understand about LGBTQ+ history, discrimination, rights, and the evolution of the cultural acceptance and understanding of LGBTQ people.
Asheville-based Blue Ridge Pride Center works to educate folks about the history, diversity, and future of queer folks in the mountains, as well as raise awareness to counter + eliminate homophobia, transphobia and discrimination.
June is Pride Month nationwide.
In part, it commemorates the Stonewall uprising that happened in 1969. If you’re looking to educate yourself about LGBTQ+ issues, learning about Stonewall is a good place to start. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion — which, like the Black Lives Matter movement, began with a fight against police brutality.
In the past, locals have also celebrated with a June Pride Party and a Blue Ridge Pride Festival in the fall. Blue Ridge Pride’s Executive Director Tina White said there were initially plans to promote Pride virtually. But as protests for racial equality erupted across the country and in Asheville, the goal for June became to listen to folks who haven’t felt heard — like those in the Black Lives Matter movement — and that are asking for a greater voice, she said.
○ The board + leadership team of Blue Ridge Pride will reassess the pride festival (slated for September) in August and make a decision about it then.
○ October is LGBT History Month, including National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11.
How to get involved?
○ As part of their focus on listening, Blue Ridge Pride will continue to move resources to their Community Partner Fund, which supports projects, groups + community service orgs that benefit the LGBTQ communities + allies in WNC. You can donate to the fund here.
Wanna contribute your own story? You can do so — named or anonymously — here.
○ In order to best assist the community’s unmet needs + priorities, the Center is compiling answers to its Community Needs Assessment. Want to offer your two cents? Reach out to leaders through Facebook or email.
“It’s not just the format but the meaning of public events is changing. Festivals are important expressions of what shared space means. We can use public space to model what a welcoming community looks like. We want to model a more just society, and when we can have a public pride celebration again, it will be very important for these reasons.” – Blue Ridge Pride Center Executive Director Tina White