If you are LGBT and/or an ally in Asheville, you are never alone. A local saying goes that, “if you throw a rock in Asheville, you’ll hit a (insert non-normative label here)”. One Google search for LGBT Asheville shows that the stereotype holds true: Asheville is one queer city!
Statewide and nationwide groups like Equality NC, HRC, and other well-known LGBT advocates find local chapters to be loud, proud, and diligent. On Facebook and other social networking sites there are several pages for local business listed in the Carolina Purple Pages. There is even an extensive “Gay and Lesbian Travel Guide” section on one of Asheville’s most popular tourist websites. But aside from the internet presence of queer folks in Asheville, there is also a wealth of local organizations here for support. Networks, support groups, and volunteer opportunities vary in scope and cover different niches within the community.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list; it is simply an overview of LGBT Asheville. The best way to get involved is to try one or several of these groups and see which ones best fit your wants and needs.
Youth OUTright provides a support system for 14-23-year-olds who might not otherwise have a positive space to meet. The group has been working and continues to work actively to promote anti-bullying in Western North Carolina schools.
The local colleges and universities—AB-Tech, Warren Wilson College, and UNC-Asheville—each have groups specifically catered to LGBT students. UNC-Asheville also has a high number of gay and lesbian faculty and staff, and offers SafeZone training to its staff to help accommodate the high number of LGBT students on campus.
One area that gets overlooked to often in LGBT discourse is healthcare. The Western North Carolina Aids Project (WNCAP) and Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNNCHS) are both working to fill the healthcare gap between heteronormative and non-normative patients. Both groups offer anonymous counseling and STD testing. WNNCHS also has a program especially for transgendered patients who seek counseling, references, and help with getting started on feminizing or masculinizing hormones.
Just Us For All is a local group which is working to become a nonprofit organization for education and support of all people in the “queer” spectrum, particularly those with underrepresented voices. Just Us For All has made efforts in the past few years to connect with other LGBT organizations as well to ensure that life continuously improves for queer-identified people in Asheville.
In the mood to dance? O.henry’s, Club Hairspray, Scandals, and other venues host dances and other parties to keep you moving, each club with a different crowd and flavor depending on the day.
Don’t see anything you like? Tired of the same spots and same people? Then start a new group; Asheville is a perfect place to do it.