Macon County Commissioner Punishes Local Librarians for Being Inclusive of the LGBTQ Community

We applaud those public servants who seek to serve and uplift EVERYONE in their community.

On June 7, Macon County Commissioners convened to review several budget proposals.  Among them was a request by Commissioner Ronnie Beale that Macon County add $20,000 in funding for the local library in order to keep salaries in pace with inflation.  He pointed out that librarian salaries are “less than anything in the county”.

Commissioner Paul Higdon objected to the increase on the grounds that the library was displaying LGBTQ-related materials during Pride month (link to video). At the end of the budget discussions, the consensus was to deny these underpaid librarians, who had continued to serve the county during COVID, what amounted to a cost-of-living increase.

In his remarks, Commissioner Higdon repeatedly referred to the library’s pride display as divisive.  We looked it up. “Divisive” is an adjective that refers to something that causes disagreement or hostility between people.  Synonyms include alienating, estranging, isolating.  If anyone was being divisive, it was Commissioner Higdon.

What I found most remarkable was the fact that the one example Commissioner Higdon offered of “divisive” content was a book titled “A Church for All”.   I cannot think of anything less divisive than the notion of a church that ministers to everyone.

Commissioner Higdon expressed concern that the library was inappropriately promoting the LGBTQ community by displaying these books in a public place.  I searched the Macon County Library online.  I found 1,969 matching the keyword “church”, 568 titles matching the keyword, “Christ”, and 758 matching the keyword “Jesus”.  Eliminating duplicates, these three key words yielded 2,759 titles. The keyword “LGBT” turned up only 39 titles. If you add “transgender” and “queer” to the search, you get to 239 – 8.7% as many.

Curiously, the first listing I found under the keyword “Church” was a book entitled “Gun Church”. The catalog summary explained that it was a novel about a man who is initiated “into a cult-like group that worships the essential nature of handguns”.  I dug a little further: the keyword “guns” will get you 1,231 titles.

Commissioner Higdon raises a good question: what topics are being promoted with public funds?  Unfortunately, as he himself admitted, Commissioner Higdon had not bothered to research the issue or to talk to anyone else, not even the librarians.  It concerns me that a county commissioner would make such a recommendation with nothing to support him but his “own personal opinion”.

I would like to know: is it Macon County policy to welcome books about churches that worship the essential nature of handguns while kicking LGBTQ children to the streets?  Forty percent of homeless youth in the US are LGBTQ.  They are not homeless by choice.  They are homeless because their families, communities, and churches have decided that they are expendable. They are homeless because they find the streets to be safer and more welcoming than their community.

Blue Ridge Pride believes in a Western North Carolina that is welcoming to all. We welcome Commissioner Higdon. We welcome his church. We do not welcome his efforts to impose his monoculture and personal opinions on the rest of us.

We live in a pluralistic society.  Our libraries and public servants exist to serve a pluralistic community.  Western North Carolina is home to an estimated 50,000 to 80,000 people who identify as LGBTQ. They have a right to find themselves represented in and supported by our public institutions.  The only divisive force in this incident was a county commissioner who evidently doesn’t believe that a church should be for all.

At Blue Ridge Pride, we believe that WNC is full of people, companies, churches, and organizations who share our vision of a welcoming community.  We just need to make them more visible.  That is why we recently launched our WNC Pride Portal and its welcoming directories: Welcoming Businesses, Welcoming Faith & Spirit, Welcoming Groups, Welcoming Community Services.

Listings are free to any WNC organization that is willing to assert that it seeks to welcome all. Our hope is to add hundreds of welcoming businesses, professionals, churches, and groups to that listing so that our community can know how welcome they are.

Want to stand up for Pride?  Show your support: Add your welcoming organization or group to our directories.  

And support your local librarian.


Tina Madison White

Executive Director

Scroll to Top

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  | or 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.  

Community & User Requests / Feedback

[gravityforms id="16" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]


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)

Program / Project Emails
General Emails
Festival / Event Emails