Why is Pride in September in Asheville? A Historic Perspective.

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June is Pride Month, a time when we all gather, in person this year! Shouldn’t it also be the time when we have our in-person Pride festival? After all, all the big cities have their pride festivals in June: New York, New Orleans, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Bend, Oregon – okay, so maybe other smaller cities, too. Well, it is partly because larger cities are hosting pride in June that Blue Ridge Pride hosts ours in September. The first formal Blue Ridge Pride Festival in Asheville took place in 2009 thanks to a small group of very dedicated, very awesome volunteers.

One of those volunteers was Amy Huntsman. She recalled that there were a few reasons for having it in the early fall season. “The decision came around our local partnerships with the City of Asheville and the Downtown Association and partnerships with other local prides. We wanted to have a weekend that would be special, coincide closer with National Coming Out Day (October), not compete with Belle Chere and other summer festivals, and that would be specific to our area and not coincide with the pride festivals in South Carolina, Tennessee, or other North Carolina Prides.”

Another founder of the first pride celebration, Ashley Arrington added: “That first year, we held it in MLK Jr Park on a rainy Saturday and around 2,000 people showed up. We knew then we had something special and built out from there, moving to Lexington Avenue the following year… It’s amazing to see it now and how much is the same, but also different after all these years.”

We have been getting a lot of community questions about why Pride is in September. Some would prefer it in June. On the plus side, it allows our community to share the love of Pride year-round. It allows people to experience pride in multiple cities and with multiple circles of friends. The September weather also draws a larger audience – one of the goals of any outreach effort. In the meantime, we’re not dormant in June. We use the time to support other events and organizations, such as GRINDFest and Hola Asheville (both June 19th).  We think it important that our city festivals start to model the kind of intersectional collaboration we seek in our communities and workplaces. We hope that everyone in our community will support these two incredible events.

This year, Pride is taking place on Saturday, September 25 at Pack Spare Park in downtown Asheville from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. You won’t want to miss this year; we have some time to make up for so we’re pulling out all the stops! If you’re interested in volunteering, sponsoring, donating, being a vendor, or would like more information, you can click volunteer at the top of the page.

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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.