About Blue Ridge Pride

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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.

Our Community

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 seeks to support our rural LGBTQ+ community in partnership with the many wonderful people and organizations who are only too eager to help. Our goal is to serve as a valued partner, collaborating with WNC’s many community service organizations and companies that welcome and serve our community.  We seek to build the connective tissue that will enable this diverse and far-flung community to build a better future together. We partner with corporations, churches, hospitals, non-profits, entrepreneurs, and government officials — anyone who openly declares that they seek to build a community that welcomes all who come in good will.

Our History

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. 

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Mental Health Providers

Eric Davis  MS, LCPA, NCC, Counselor

Willow Wellness and Recovery, PC 9 All Souls Crescent  Suite B, Asheville, North Carolina 28803  Phone: (828) 490-4137 | Website I am a firm believer in empowerment and self-determination. In the past, I have worked well with folks experiencing a range of issues, such as anxiety, depression, substance-use, sleep disturbances, relationship issues, and issues unique to the LGBT community.

Scott Thomas,  Licensed Professional Counselor, MA, LPC, LCAS

Silver Lining Therapy 70 Woodfin Place  STE 21, Asheville, North Carolina 28801  Phone: (828) 705-3084 | Website I believe humor can be a powerful tool for healing and seek to incorporate this into our time together. Unique to my practice is an approach that truly puts you at the center of the counseling experience, and I draw from a wide variety of techniques to help you see and experience real change in your life. To see if therapy might be a good fit, I offer free phone consultations.

James Harrison, PhD Psychologist

12 Westridge Dr , Asheville, North Carolina 28803  Phone: (828) 348-6300 | Website I enjoy helping people achieve physical and emotional intimacy whether they are young or old, straight or gay, in healthy, responsible, and mutually affirming ways. I also enjoy helping people improve their earning and manage their assets. And I like working with older people. I offer free phone consultations.

Judy Maris, Counselor, LPC, LCPC, MA, MS

Maris Psychotherapy 41 Clayton St, Suite 301, Asheville, North Carolina 28801  Phone: (828) 537-4489 | Website We can explore troublesome patterns that tend to repeat themselves in your life or look at new issues that have just come up. The important thing is for us to work together to get to the bottom of your difficulties and resolve them. I will assist you in becoming more aware of what you are feeling and thinking in the present moment. The untapped wisdom within you is a powerful healing force. Let me help you gain access to your full inner resources. I offer free phone consultations.

Elizabeth Heaney, Counselor, MA, LPC 

166 E Chestnut Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801  Phone: (520) 447-3319 | Website I work with individual adults with concerns like: family history issues, relationship concerns, life satisfaction issues (related to jobs, living situations or relationships), anxiety and depression. I’ve had a particular focus on working with couples, addressing every aspect of relationship challenges – relationship dissatisfaction/boredom, affairs, sexual/intimacy issues, etc. And I was a civilian counselor on military bases for several years, so I have a clear understanding of the unique pressures and challenges facing service members and families. I offer free phone consultations.

Siljoy Maurer

Holistic Perspectives P.O. Box 333, Enka, NC 2872  Phone: (828) 333-0103  | siljoy@me.com or  www.HolisticPerspectives.com For many years now I have been mentoring men and women from all walks of life. It continues to be my greatest joy to accompany someone from “just being ok” into thriving! As a Mentor & Healer I partner with my clients in creating authenticity, wellness and deep contentment, in whatever area of their lives they are seeking change. The combination of giving very practical, livable tools for direct “next steps” while “holding the big picture” and then manifesting that big picture often feels like this: a new client brings me their life or life situation in a jigsaw puzzle box, they lost the lid and forgot what the picture on it looked like. I am good at knowing that picture and then guiding my clients/mentees to put all the puzzle pieces together.  

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Email: Hello@BlueRidgePride.org

MailPO Box 2044, Asheville NC 28802-2044

Packages: 33 Coxe Avenue, Unit 2044, Asheville NC 28801 (note different zip code).

Phone: 828-423-0655 (via Google Voice)

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