Our Mission & Vision
Our mission is to promote equality, safety, and quality of life for western North Carolina’s LGBTQ and allied communities, working as a united community through advocacy, celebration, education and service. We envision an inclusive community, where people are embraced for who they are and feel welcomed to engage and contribute.
Service Area: We seek to support communities in the following 23 counties: Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey.
Western North Carolina is home to an estimated 55,000 to 80,000 people who identify as LGBTQ+. Over 10,000 of these identify as transgender or non-binary.
Although many of us have been cast aside by our nuclear families, family values run deep in our community. Roughly 10,000 of us live with a committed partner. A fifth of these are raising children together. We lack local statistics on LGBTQ joblessness, homelessness, health issues, and poverty, but we know that many in our community are struggling.
Our rural geography poses some special challenges. Stigmatized people who live in rural communities are typically isolated by both their identity and their geography. It can be hard for them to find support, safety, and friendship. Meanwhile, the organizations and groups that seek to support them face similar challenges. Although western North Carolina is home to largest per capita concentration of 501(c)(3) organizations in the country: they tend to be tiny in scale and budget. Their constituents can be hard to find and reach.
How We Operate
Blue Ridge Pride Center, Inc. was formed in 2009 by a group who saw the need for a community-driven organization that would appeal to the diverse LGBTQ communities of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. In October of 2009, we held our first festival at Asheville’s Martin Luther King Jr. Park . Approximately 2,000 people came out to the event on a rainy day to celebrate and to learn more about our community and the resources available to us. During the next 10 years, the organization focused chiefly on two annual events, the fall Pride Festival and the annual Miss Blue Ridge Pride Pageant.
In 2018, the board voted to expand the organization’s mission, programs, and geographical scope. We now partner with others to deliver the following programs.
Our Programs and Projects
- Community Events – Create events that bring people together a foster a more welcoming community. Includes our festival, procession, pageant, and many special events.
- WNC Pride Portal – Leverage the internet to connect, inform, and support our community. Includes a community calendar, news center, and directory.
- Education, Outreach & Advocacy – Create a more welcoming community by educating people about our shared humanity. Our major project is the WNC LGBTQ+ Oral History Project.
- Business Alliance Initiative – Partner with businesses and entrepreneurs to strengthen our community by working together. This includes our participation in the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce.
- Community Collaborations – Support and collaborate with other 501(c)(3)’s. A cornerstone of this program is our Community Partner Fund.
- Generation Plus – Address the needs of a large and growing population in our community: those who have entered life’s third act.
Following are links to news articles, videos, and photos from our archives.
Legal & Financial Records
Blue Ridge Pride Center, Inc. is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and with the Secretary of State of North Carolina.