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Pride
We are Pride !WE ARE PRIDE !
It's not just a day or week.
We can be Pride-full every day.
It comes from WITHIN.
It's NOT given to us !
And it cannot be taken from us.

REMEMBER:
AS WE BELIEVE, SO SHALL WE SEE
ANOTHER:
BELIEVE IN SOMETHING SO MUCH
THAT IT HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO
MATERIALIZE !

Be extra good to yourselves !
YOU are worth it !
***Don't believe what others say
about you. They don't know the
ESSENCE of who you are OR
what you want or need, in order to THRIVE ! *Be all YOU can be !
(& Let all the garbage go ! ! !)

A Cup of Me from Max

Identity
Changing YourselfI often wonder who I would be if I hadn't conditioned myself to change everything about myself from a young age. I remember when I was very young pink was my favorite color - then I learned pink was a "girl's color" so I changed it to green. I loved Madonna (child of the 80s/90s) but when I realized other men my age thought it was "queer," I started listening to more rock to assimilate. I thought I had a "funny" walk, so I taught myself how to walk more "masculine"-putting my chest out, relaxing my arms a bit more, etc.

Etc. is the name of the game here, all of these microchanges I made in my life - I always wondered who I would be if I was raised today - with an arguably more accepting society and more access to resources and allies. There is no end to this conversation, today I present as someone who doesn't want you to think he is gay. However, I don't care if anyone knows, and it's the first thing I'll tell you when I meet you. However, this conditioned version of myself has become my reality. It's not something I try to do anymore, it's something I've become.

So, I'm always just a little bit curious to meet the other Max who never had the chance to be seen.

A Cup of Me from Max

Life Lessons
TEND TO YOUR GARDENMy life has been a long and winding road. As a single gay senior man, I have observed so many gay “couples” that seem to take each other for granted. The constant “banter” back and forth. The teenage cutting up on each other and the endless petty arguments. No hand holding, no public kisses, no display of any sort of affection that one would expect from a “couple”, no less married couple. I find it heart breaking and discouraging.

All of you out there that have a partner, please stop, and pause and reflect on this other person that is in your life. Maybe for a year or maybe 10 or 20 years. What if your person was gone tomorrow? What are all of the things you wish you had said or had done to show them that you loved them?

I say, do those things now, while you still have time.

Some gay men seem to always have their eye on the door for the next best thing to enter. The grass may seem greener on the other side of the fence, but it is an illusion. The grass is simply green on the other side and your side of the fence is brown and tattered, because you have not tended to your garden. So PLEASE love a little deeper, kiss a little sweeter, and hug a little longer, and talk to each other with respect and kindness. (and for goodness sake, buy him flowers for no reason at all !! )

A Cup of Me from CAMPFIRESKY

Experiences
Life's journeyCategoryI grew up in a very small town in East TN where being Gay was not at all accepted. Life was very difficult and I wished at a very young age that I was no longer on this earth. I have spent the majority of my life feeling ashamed, resented, unworthy and alone. I tried to live a "normal" life and got married. However, the only good thing to come from the marriage were my 2 beautiful daughters. After my divorce, I continued to struggle and spent many years of self harm that finally led to a suicide attempt, all because of the shame I felt. But I survived because I found a purpose... being a father. I felt overwhelming joy being a Dad, but still could not accept myself, even though my daughters did. I dated and had relationships that did not help in my journey until I met Logan. He began to see and wanted me to see the real me. I tried, but never really could see it. I had spent my life searching for everyone around me to validate my existence. Years rolled by and things began to change. we moved, my daughters got married, I became a Poppop, but I felt the same. Then the most incredible event happened...we found our TRIBE and we became a family. They are the most incredible people I have ever met. They have inspired me to finally have the courage to begin my journey to be comfortable and proud in my own skin. I even married my best friend after 17 yrs. I can finally see the light at the end of my journey and it is beautiful. Never give up and always have HOPE.

A Cup of Me from Keith

Living Your TruthIn Fourth Grade I started taking Ballet, I loved everything about it. One day at school someone called me a faggot for taking dance, that afternoon I asked my mother what it meant. Her explanation was both factual and tender … I absolutely knew at that moment that I was gay.

I knew, but it would take decades before I had the strength to announce it to the world. My 21 year marriage ended because I could no longer not live my truth.

It is never too late to live your truth…

A Cup of Me from Chris Tinkler

Living Your TruthIn Fourth Grade I started taking Ballet, I loved everything about it. One day at school someone called me a faggot for taking dance, that afternoon I asked my mother what it meant. Her explanation was both factual and tender … I absolutely knew at that moment that I was gay.

I knew, but it would take decades before I had the strength to announce it to the world. My 21 year marriage ended because I could no longer not live my truth.

It is never too late to live your truth…

A Cup of Me from Chris Tinkler

Living Your TruthIn Fourth Grade I started taking Ballet, I loved everything about it. One day at school someone called me a faggot for taking dance, that afternoon I asked my mother what it meant. Her explanation was both factual and tender … I absolutely knew at that moment that I was gay.

I knew, but it would take decades before I had the strength to announce it to the world. My 21 year marriage ended because I could no longer not live my truth.

It is never too late to live your truth…

A Cup of Me from Chris Tinkler

Age
Aging with EmpowermentCategoryI am committed to a community that empowers older adults to be a gift to humanity. An individual needs to feel safe and included in order to actualize and share their gifts. I see a future where older adults feel included, supported, and well resourced to share their gifts. Blue Ridge Pride is a part of creating that world. Through my collaboration with BRP, doors continue to open in creating the world I want to live and into.

A Cup of Me from Rebecca

Shame
Healing IndoctrinationLike so many of us, as a young child I had no say in the matter of my spirituality. The foundation upon which I was raised was deeply steeped in the traditions of the Catholic faith. While I loved the sense of community, I was mostly underwhelmed and often confused by the "do as I say, not as I do" behavior. This is where my detachment from organized religion truly began. I honor a person's right to practice any faith they choose, and I acknowledge that the choice to be Catholic had never been mine. Consequently, I'm still healing from the covert indoctrination of guilt and shame. I'm incredibly grateful for the love and support I continue to receive from my family and they welcomed my husband into our family without hesitation. However, growing up gay in an Irish Catholic community still had its fair share of challenges. I never fully understood how the concept of guilt and shame would shape the person I am today. Simply put, its the difference between "You did something bad" (guilt) and "You are bad" (shame). This showed up as poorly managed boundaries (inability to say "no" for fear of disapproval), self-suppression ("be a good little boy"), and a profound sense of mistrust for authority because I didn't feel safe. I continue to do my own work to break free from the constraints placed on me as a young child. We all have our own demons and by facing mine, I took back my power and continue to free myself from the shackles of shame whenever it shows up.

A Cup of Me from Christopher

Community
Cup of Me SymphonyI was recently at the outdoor Asheville Symphony Concert in front of the courthouse. Bordering the orchestra set up was the delightful Cup of Me installation. The symphony was broadcast on a loud speaker and was absolutely magnificent. Between sets, the Cup of Me installation made a tinkling sound as the wind blew. It was incredible to hear both - the loud and magnificent instrumental music and the soft, delicate music coming from the cups - and to reflect on how each of us has a voice. Some use their voices louder than others. Some barely speak at all but their presence makes a difference. Being in community with those who yell, those who speak, those who whisper and those who remain silent reminds me that it takes all of us to make music.

A Cup of Me from Music Lover

COVID
Isolation and DepressionCategoryDamn Covid. As a social person this pandemic has caused so much depression and anxiety in my life. I miss seeing my gay brothers and sisters. I miss those interactions, the laughter. Staying positive is difficult when all you hear about is more death, more infections and more people not willing to do their part as citizens. It's almost 2 years now. I pray for the day when we can all dance, sing, laugh, joke, and mostly hug again.

A Cup of Me from RWT

Life Lessons
Coming OutCategoryComing out as gay can be one of the hardest decisions in the journey of life. The fear of hatred, the worry about relatives attitudes, the fear for our jobs, places of living, etc. can be overwhelming. But living a life in the shadows is hardly a life. For me coming out was not just a release from my mind about who I am but an eye opening experience for people around me. And my soul became one with my mind through the experience. I am free now to share my voice as a proud gay man. Don't hide. You have support. You are loved. And you have a huge opportunity to create a wonderful life.

A Cup of Me from Butch Thompson

Friends
Friends=Rainbow LoveCategoryMy friends are me n I am thee.To.look ahead n walk on a blanket of Souls of Rainbow fabric winding up my tree of Life.Climbing n pulling me to them so we will once again be the Thee in me.

A Cup of Me from Rosiebud69x1

Life Lessons
Things My Mother Never Taught MeLife has taught me this: First, we discover Self; then, we create Self. Authenticity requires awareness and with this awareness comes a responsibility to do, to be, better. In this space and through this struggle, we find our humanity and are then able to share this with others regardless of their ability to do the same in that exact moment... We cannot give our power away by requiring others to see, validate, understand, or accept us. Instead, the sweetest revenge on those we feel have harmed us is simply to thrive, to refuse to be bitter, to move forward to better. In the end, we all have a story to share and a story to write – that is ultimately all we have to give – and what an effing beautiful gift that is!

A Cup of Me from Michael H.

COVID
COVID and Public SpacesEvery day, the world seems to get a little smaller. We are increasingly reminded of the impact we have on one another.
Some respond by trying to reclaim their private space and personal freedoms. It is an understandable response. But is it realistic?
If we are to survive as a people, we need to learn to hold space together. We need to learn to make others feel welcome.

A Cup of Me from Jasmine

Identity
The Labels that Define UsCategoryMost people think that labels define the thing labeled. My experience is that they define the person doing the labeling.
If I see a man walking down the street and my first thought is, "there goes a Black man", I have done nothing to define him. In truth, I don't know the first thing about him - except for his skin pigmentation. I don't know his heart's desire, his skills, his favorite joke. I don't know if he tucks his children in each night. Does he like to write? To sing? To dance?
The only thing I know at that moment is that I am a person whose mind is anchored to the color of someone's skin.
I'm not ashamed of it. We are all human. But I try to use that moment to learn about myself and to laugh at my human frailty.
And then I approach that man. Maybe I can learn something about him that is actually important.

A Cup of Me from TQ

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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.