How to Celebrate Pride Month in Asheville, NC
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16 Ways to Celebrate Pride Month in Asheville

I was born in Argentina in the ‘70s during some of the most violent years of our history, leading to a brutal dictatorship that ended when I was 13 years old. My hometown had a little mall with a low-profile café/bar. The windows had curtains, and the inside was always dark and illuminated with purple lights. But once, when I was about seven, I took a sneak peek and saw two men holding hands. 

That was when I learned that two men could love each other romantically. I then remembered I had seen two women holding hands once. However, nobody had told me about them – we never mentioned them at home or school, and they were not portrayed on TV or in movies. 

Being part of a culture where public acts of affection are very common, I wondered: “Why do I not see couples like that walking around holding hands like other couples? Why are they hiding? Where do they go when they want to hold hands? Do they have secret lives?” It seemed so unfair. I also wondered if there was something unspeakably wrong with loving someone of your same sex.

Things have drastically changed in Argentina and the world since then, and the riots after the Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan on June 28, 1969, played a significant role in the process. They led to the creation of the Gay Liberation Front that’s been changing the world, one battle at a time.

Since 1970, when Pride Parades commemorating the first anniversary of Stonewall occurred in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, people from all backgrounds have come together around the world every June to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community and their path toward equality. 

I’m white, middle class, and straight, so I’ve always wondered how it must feel not to be free to be who you are with your family, in public, or at work. Of course, I won’t ever know how it feels, but I do know that I want my kids to grow up where they have the right to be who they are without fear of discrimination. 

We found that place in Asheville and are not the only ones. Our city was named the 12th Gayest City in the US in 2010 by The Advocate (because y’all means all, people!). Also, in June 2015, Asheville celebrated North Carolina’s first gay wedding, and it’s now a popular place for destination weddings and elopements among the community. 

Pride Month celebrates LGBTQI+ people and culture and brings awareness to work done and to be yet done to support their rights. It’s also a month to honor the lives of those members of the community who died of HIV/AIDS or were killed by hate crimes. 

Major festivities are held this month worldwide, and rainbow and ally flags, clothing, and merch are displayed everywhere. But, of course, sustainable, safe spaces are created with committed small and big actions year-round. Unfortunately, LGBTQI+ people still get bullied, persecuted, and even killed everywhere every day.

There are many ways to celebrate Pride Month in June and beyond. These are three basics: 

1. Make sure the businesses where you spend your money support LGBTQI+ with their policies (don’t let the merch they sell every June fool you). 

2. Donate money to organizations that support this community or become a volunteer.

3. Educate yourself and your children about LGBTQI+ history and rights. Remember that the mother of all hatred is ignorance. Read books, ask questions, question yourself, and most importantly, love your neighbor and teach your children to love their neighbors. Always and no matter what flag they are exhibiting.

Finally, don’t forget to check out the Facebook group What’s Happening, Asheville? for daily updates on local events! What are your favorite things to do during Pride Month in Asheville? Please let us know in the comments.

I hope you have a celebratory, productive, and meaningful Pride Month! May we all support each other in living by Harvey Fierstein’s words:  “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”

Don’t forget to check out our web story: 16 Ways to Celebrate Pride Month in Asheville

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase or booking through one of our links we may earn a small commission (don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you).

16 Ways to Celebrate Pride Month in Asheville

1. Sign up to participate in the Blue Ridge Pride Festival in September

Pride Month in Asheville: Blue Ridge Pride Festival

Blue Ridge Pride organizes a fun, family-friendly Pride Festival every year in September at Pack Square in downtown Asheville. Folks can participate in the procession held instead of a parade as vendors, volunteers, or performers. All registrations are held in June. 

The celebrations include a procession open to local businesses, nonprofits, and groups of community members and a festival with performances and the presence of local heroes and advocates. 

In addition, there will be a calming space for people experiencing anxiety or those with neurodivergence. Participating in the procession is free, and your most stunning pride gear is encouraged. So start planning!

Also, you’ll love getting to choose Mrs., Mr., or Mx. Blue Ridge Pride in the Drag Pageant in a local venue (TBD). Follow the organization’s social media channels for updates on how to join one of the best activities to celebrate Pride Month in Asheville.

Blue Ridge Pride’s mission is “Advocate. Celebrate. Educate. Serve.” They offer many programs in the community, including a Community Partnership Fund to support other local nonprofits and a directory of friendly local businesses, entrepreneurs, and service providers.


2. Read some of the books recommended by the Buncombe County Public Libraries and the Appalachian Learning Initiative

Ways to Celebrate Pride Month in Asheville: Books

More education is often (always?) the best answer to any given challenge. So the local heroes (aka the librarians) of Buncombe County put together this great list of books featuring stories about and by LGBTQI+ authors and characters.

The list includes fiction and non-fiction for adults, youth, and juvenile readers and picture books for kids. This is an excellent resource for folks wanting to gain more knowledge and for families with young kids wanting to normalize diversity while celebrating Pride Month in Asheville. 

For example, you’ll love The Rainbow Parade by Emily Neilson about a family’s first Pride parade that “reminds all readers that sometimes pride takes practice and there’s no “one way” to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Also, the Appalachian Learning Initiative curated the excellent Appalachian Pride 2023 Reading List about LGBTQI+ life in Appalachia, including Asegi Stories: Cherokee Queer and Two-Spirit Memory by Qwo-Li Driskill, which dives into gender and sexuality in Cherokee cultural memory. 

Keep in mind that every purchase made from this list gives a small contribution to APPLI through Amazon’s Affiliate Program.


3. Go to Neng Jr.’s and try the 2023 Now Awards Honoree Chef Silver Iocovozzi’s food

Are you ready to give the restaurant that’s rocking Asheville’s food scene a try? Neng Jr.’s is an intimate Filipino restaurant that seats only 17 people. Chef Silver Iocovozzi is a second-generation immigrant, and their creative dishes have made the restaurant one of the finalists for the James Beard Awards “2023 Best New Restaurant.”

Iocovozzi was also an honoree of Them’s 2023 Now Awards, honoring 12 LGBTQ+ people across 12 categories “whose work and stories… represent the cutting edge of queer culture today.” 

In addition, the restaurant and its chef have been featured in national media, including the New York Times, and even their fabulous wedding in Tybee Island was the subject of a Vogue article. The great part? It’s only been open for a year!


4. Celebrate the first 25 years of the Asheville Gay Men’s Chorus

The Asheville Gay Men’s Chorus is turning 25 this year! And attending a performance is one of the best things you can do to celebrate Pride Month in Asheville. 

This nonprofit’s vision is to claim its role as the transforming and transcending choral voice for our LGBTQ and affirming community. Their vision is to entertain, advocate, and connect the community through choral excellence.

“Singing together creates a space where we express our identities, feelings, and beliefs and those of our greater LGBTQ community. We celebrate, mourn, reflect, exhort, and sometimes raise our voices in anger. Sometimes we sing for those who no longer can.”

You can try to make it to one of their stunning performances – if you can’t, donate or get some of their adorable merchandise.


5. Participate in the (free) Nerd Pride Fest and support the local nonprofit Tranzmission

Fun Pride Month in Asheville: Nerd Pride Fest

The Nerd Dungeon hosted its first Nerd Pride Fest in 2023, and we hope it will become an annual event. The three-day fundraising festival is a great family-friendly celebration for Pride Month in Asheville.

The best part? The proceeds from the festival go to Tranzmission, a local nonprofit that offers education, advocacy, and support for nonbinary and transgender people in Western North Carolina. 

The festival includes local vendors showcasing their products and services, an open mic for poets, storytellers, and performers, rainbow face painting for kids, and live concerts. The highlight? A Pride Colors Contest that incites folks to dress up and get cute for the audience, who will decide who wins. Also, there are lots of fun photo opportunities. 

Tranzmission was founded in Asheville in 2001 and does outstanding work in the community. It facilitates educational, advocacy, and support programs for nonbinary, genderqueer, and gender fluid people as well as trans women, trans men and families, friends, and allies. 


6. Join Hendersonville Pride in their June festivities

Celebrate Pride Month in Asheville: Hendersonville Pride

Hendersonville Pride is a local nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ people and promoting unity, visibility, self-esteem, and a positive image of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

The celebrations include a picnic at Jackson Park, where the entire family can join. Folks can bring their food or get it from local food trucks. You’ll love the kid-friendly activities (face painting, corn hole games, and kids’ art gallery), the possibility to network with other local nonprofits, the free yoga classes, and the drum circle!

After the picnic, there is a party at Oklawaha Brewing. This popular brewery also hosts the fundraising Trivia with Raphael in June, and the proceeds go to Hendersonville Pride. 

Finally, Blue Ridge Beer Garden hosts Pride Nights from April to October at 6:30 pm, a fun opportunity to connect with the local LGBTQI+ tribe.


7. Support the Campaign for Southern Equality and take action to create the social justice you want to see in the South

Asheville Pride Month: Campaign for Southern Equality

Campaign for Southern Equality is working to create “a South Where All of Us Can Thrive” through funding and training local LGBTQI+ grassroots activists, providing a list of valuable resources, and organizing rapid responses to political threats.

They offer several relevant programs, including the Southern Equality Studios, a project that explores how arts can be vital to retell stories and building more equity. In addition, they offer an especially relevant Legal Legality Program that focuses on “achieving legal equality by striking down anti-LGBTQ laws, passing pro-LGBTQ policies across the South.” 

If this sounds inspiring to you, take action to celebrate Pride Month in Asheville! Donate, volunteer, register to vote, join their newsletter, or enter a state coalition. Check out their list of things you can do to ensure y’all truly means ALL.


8. Get the cutest Pride Month merchandise at L.O.F.T Downtown

Pride Month in Asheville: Pride Month merchandise

L.O.F.T (Lost Objects, Found Treasures) is one of the coolest downtown shops. Even if you don’t buy anything, visiting them will make you smile, laugh, and think. Although, I warn you: leaving without at least one souvenir is impossible. I can’t count the times I’ve told my kids, “We’re not buying anything today,” just to see us leaving with a couple of little bags after a few minutes.

Their offering includes a display of several dozens of garden accessories, planters, chimes, and suncatchers they put outside every morning and bring back inside every evening – it’s one of downtown’s most joyful landmarks.

They carry Pride merchandise year-round, but the entire store becomes a rainbow when June arrives. From pins, jewelry, stickers, and candles honoring “your favorite gays” to books (Legends of Drags anyone?), pride tarot, and queer and drag queen activity books, they have all you need to celebrate Pride Month in Asheville every day of the year. 

My favorites are the super photogenic Pride garden gnomes. You’ll love them! You can see the complete list of goodies here, and they ship. 


9. Support the work of these two nonprofits run by drag queens 

“Ego loves identity. Drag mocks identity. Ego hates drag” (RuPaul). It’s not an easy time to be part of the Southern drag royalty right now, but in Asheville, we adore our drag queens and can see them in shows almost every night around town. 

The nonprofit Asheville Drag Brunch Shows is the longest-running professional drag brunch show in Asheville. Their rotating queens bring their show and brunch to different restaurants, breweries, and bars, and all profits benefit local nonprofits.

In addition to the brunches, they are now offering a Drag Queen Bar Crawl from April to October, one of the best activities to celebrate Pride Month in Asheville while exploring our renowned beer scene.

The Beer City Sisters is another drag queen nonprofit dedicated to promoting and celebrating diversity, social awareness, universal joy, and the expiation of stigmatic guilt. Their secret weapons? “Self-expression and irreverent humor for advocacy, education, outreach, and philanthropy.” 

What’s not to love about that? You can check their upcoming events on their website or social media. You’ll adore them!


10. Take a selfie of one of Asheville’s most famous murals featuring RuPaul and Dolly Parton

Pride Month in Asheville: RuPaul and Dolly Parton mural

After Tennessee passed a law restricting drag queen performances in 2023, another Southern queen said, “I dress more provocatively and risqué than any drag queen in Tennessee. Lord, I hope they don’t outlaw me!” Guess who it was? Dolly Parton! The same Dolly who once said that if she weren’t a girl, she’d be a drag queen.

Dolly has a huge fan base in Asheville, including tribute bands, Dolly dance parties, and the 5,000+ Buncombe County kids who received inclusive books from her Imagination Library, which portray all kinds of families. Plus, RuPaul is probably the most famous drag queen in the United Estates. They are two icons, no doubt of that. 

So call the fantastic local artist Gus Cutty and paint them looking sweetly at each other in a mural on the wall of a beauty salon, and the result is a unique, super Instagrammable piece of art that made RuPaul tweet, “Gorgeous! I hope it’s real.”

It’s real, and it’s in Asheville. Go to Asheville Beauty Parade to see it!


11. Are you a big-time fan of drag queens? Check out these three venues!

Asheville Beauty Academy has been featured in the national media, and it’s one of the most fun places to celebrate Pride Month in Asheville and to celebrate life every night. They always have something going on and offer drag shows every week, including late-night parties, brunch, high tea parties, and trivia and karaoke nights. They also have fantastic ‘80s disco parties!

O. Henry’s in downtown Asheville was established in 1976, and it’s the oldest gay bar in North Carolina. This legendary venue hosts late-night drag queen shows every week. They also offer fantastic drink specials and an underground space to rent for private events.

Finally, Scandals Nightclub is the longest-running dance club in Asheville, serving our community for over 35 years. They’ve been presenting late-night “legendary drag shows since 1982.” Check them out on Fridays or Saturdays!  

Why do we love drag queen shows so much? RuPaul nailed it:  “It’s a sort of piss-take on culture because a drag queen is a clown – a parody of our society. It’s a sarcastic spoof on culture, which allows us to laugh at ourselves – but in a way that is inclusive of everyone.”


12. Join a PFLAG Asheville coffee support group and get to hang out with other parents of trans people

Ways to Celebrate Pride Month in Asheville: PFLAG Asheville

PFLAG Asheville is a fantastic resource for parents of trans teens and adults, although it also welcomes other family members, friends, and allies. They host monthly coffee support groups as a way to connect more intimately. Just to let you know, registration is required.

This nonprofit’s mission is to offer support and education for families, allies, and people who are LGBTQI+ and to advocate in the communities to change attitudes and create policies and laws that achieve full equality. 

​PFLAG National was founded in 1973 by Jeanne Manford, a parent who famously marched with her gay son in a parade. Manford soon became the bridge between gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people who asked her to speak with their parents on their behalf. She held her first support group on March 11, 1973, at a church in Greenwich Village. 

​PFLAG National currently has over 400 chapters and 200,000 supporters in the US. The Asheville chapter was founded in 2018. In addition to support and education groups, PFLAG provides a vast array of local, regional, and national resources.


13. If you belong to the Queer and GNC community, take this donation-based yoga class 

Fun Pride Month in Asheville:  West Asheville Yoga
Images courtesy of West Asheville Yoga

West Asheville Yoga offers this excellent class focused on creating “an affirming and inclusive space for queer and gender non-conforming individuals.” They invite folks to come as they are and enjoy their bodies’ movement while spending time with the community. 

The class welcomes everyone, from experienced yoga practitioners to beginners who want to try this discipline. Each class might include a sharing circle (participation is optional) and a creative activity. 

If you don’t belong to this group, consider supporting this local business that provides a safe space for everyone. You can take yoga classes, give gift cards, or purchase in their shop.


14. Join the LGBTQI+ Community Day at the North Carolina Glass Center

Celebrate Pride Month in Asheville: North Carolina Glass Center

The North Carolina Glass Center in the River Arts District is one of Asheville’s most interesting art studios and shops. In addition to showcasing beautiful pieces of glass art and hosting art classes and workshops, it also offers free Community Day Series for different groups in the community, including Veterans, BIPOC, and LGBTQI+ folks. 

The classes and workshops are free and open to everyone who identifies as part of the LGBTQI+ community. For example, in the 30-minute Flame Shop workshop at the beginning of June, participants made pendants with the help of an experienced instructor.

Asheville Pride Month: North Carolina Glass Center

All levels are welcome, and everyone over the age of 11 can join! Please remember that the art pieces will be ready 24 hours after the workshop. If you don’t belong to this group of people, make sure to support the North Carolina Glass Center for the good work they do in the community.


15. Support these local LGBTQI+-owned, led, and welcoming businesses

As I said in the intro of this article, Asheville is very LGBTQI+ friendly, and many businesses are owned or led by people who identify with this group. Many places have gone above and beyond to create a safe space for the community. 

Of course, it’s not possible to list them all in this article, but make sure you check the directory of the LGBTQI+-owned and led businesses by the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and the compilations of the most LGBTQIK+ friendly-business offered by Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Some of the businesses that made it to those lists are beloved among locals, like Noir Collective AVL in downtown, also a Black-owned business selling the work of local Black artists, or All Bodies Movement and Wellness, an inclusive, queer-owned, trans-positive place “that celebrates and welcomes ALL bodies instead of berating them.”


16. Familiarize yourself with these five nonprofits doing fantastic work in our communities

There are many local and regional organizations supporting members of the LGBTQI+ community. You can support them by volunteering, donating, or being part of their campaigns. The simple act of learning about them could impact your education regarding this topic, or you might need to pass the information you gained to someone else. So, make sure you are familiar with their work:

Youthoutright is an Asheville nonprofit. Its mission is to create a world in which all queer and trans youth are supported to realize their power and autonomy through self-determination. Their work includes programming for youth ages 11-24, training for youth-serving organizations, and advocating for policies protecting queer and trans youth.

Corn Bread and Roses is another Appalachian nonprofit in Jackson County founded under the belief that we all have more in common with one another than differences and aims to create and sustain supportive groups and activities for the community. Check their goals and see if you can support them in achieving them!

Equality North Carolina is the oldest statewide organization of its kind in the country. The Western North Carolina chapter includes Asheville, and you can connect with the community through their Facebook Group.

Trans in the South is a directory of more than 400 trans-affirming Southern health service providers, including mental health providers, primary care physicians, HIV care specialists, attorneys, endocrinologists, and more across 13 Southern states. They also provide info on assistance with funding medical transition and insurance coverage.

Happy Pride Month in Asheville!

There you have it! The 16 ways to celebrate Pride Month in Asheville. Did we miss any local Pride events or activities? Let us know so we can add them to this list!


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Born in Argentina, Laura is a journalist who's lived in Asheville for 10 years. She loves all things Asheville, from the vast business scene to the beautiful nonprofits, magical people, and marvelous nature. She loves being involved in projects that are the change she wants to see in the world.

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