Asheville City Council encourages people to avoid topless rally

An open letter from Mayor Terry Bellamy and all Asheville City Council members urges the public to avoid this Sunday’s GoTopless rally, noting that they “do not endorse” the female attendees exposing their breasts to public view. Council members also asserts that, due to state law, the city’s options are limited.

The Asheville Citizen-Times goes a step further, reporting on Aug. 23 that several North Carolina cities actually do restrict public nudity.
The full letter is below:

An Open Letter to Citizens and Visitors of Asheville,

As many of you are aware, an event known as “GoTopless” is scheduled to occur in downtown Asheville this Sunday. If it is similar to last year’s event, a number of female attendees may be topless, exposing their breasts to public view.

As citizens of Asheville and individual members of Asheville City Council, we do not endorse this conduct. We believe that it does nothing to help our community, and we recognize that it disappoints and embarrasses many of our citizens and visitors. We wish it were not happening.

Despite our hopes over the past few months that this could be addressed by city ordinance, legal research indicates that this is a matter of State law, and that our city’s options are very limited. As soon as possible, we fully intend to seek legislation in Raleigh that will clarify the law and enable Asheville and other communities in North Carolina to respond more effectively. Please join us in urging our legislators in that direction.

As for the event that is set to occur this Sunday, we urge citizens and visitors to avoid the event. Please do enjoy our vibrant downtown this Sunday in other ways, including your support for the Goombay Festival, other events, and our great downtown businesses.


Terry M. Bellamy, Mayor
Esther Manheimer, Vice-Mayor
Cecil Bothwell, Councilman
Jan Davis, Councilman
Marc Hunt, Councilman
Chris Pelly, Councilman
Gordon Smith, Councilman


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20 thoughts on “Asheville City Council encourages people to avoid topless rally

  1. Doug Sahm

    I’m with the Council on this, but this unfortunately just brings more attention to the rally.
    It is nice to see both liberals and conservatives on the same side of this issue.

  2. Dionysis

    Hey, if one is going into town on Sunday, then know that the Goombay Festival is good for about 30 minutes of checking the repetitive stalls out and maybe grabbing an over-priced bit of fried fatty whatever. If one really wants to savor everything “vibrant downtown” is offering, why skip this event?

    Would Council feel differently if it was sponsored by U.S. Cellular? Maybe “Broadband and boobs…we are Asheville!”

  3. City council defers to the legislature on the topless issue but not on the water system merger. They say, “there’s nothing we can do. It’s out of our hands.” Then they presume to hold a referendum on the sale of somebody else’s water system.

  4. orgulla

    Yes, this particular event (topless Raelian front group?) is completely bizarre, but there is nothing ‘disappointing or embarrassing’ about women sans shirts. Maybe if it just keeps happening every year eventually people will get over it.

    I say we just institute topless sunbathing (multiple genders please) in a certain area of Pack Square. Hey, how about the free speech zone that the council kicked Occupy out of, right by the city building? I think it’s nice and grassy now.

  5. Mary Tully

    Let me get this straight: Women’s bodies are indecent, but the sale of foie gras within the city is socially and morally acceptable? Asheville’s fearless leaders need to check themselves before the wreck themselves.

    If I were raising a daughter in Asheville, I would have a HUGE problem with Asheville decision-makers countering my “love your body the way it is” message with their “but keep it covered up because it’s offensive” message. My body is not offensive, Asheville!

  6. bsummers

    Mr. Peck – have you gone to all the places you spread the falsehood that most of the water system customers live outside the City, and set the record straight?

  7. Meiling Dai

    I read somewhere that some N.C. cities do ban displays of nudity. If that is true, then why can’t Asheville do something to prevent this from happening? I find it hard to believe that a conservative state like North Carolina would allow this to happen. A topless rally does not help tourism; it hurts it. And what about children who may be present; what kind of message does this send to them as they grow up?

  8. Dionysis

    “And what about children who may be present; what kind of message does this send to them as they grow up?”

    Oh, I dunno…how about a message that says “there is nothing shameful about the human body, in spite of endemic gender bias and hypcrisy” and “Like it or not, this is an example of free expression.”

    Maybe they would grow up with a healthier attitude.

  9. bsummers

    “And what about children who may be present; what kind of message does this send to them as they grow up?”

    Or maybe, “You’re going to be barraged by sexualized semi-nudity for commercial purposes as soon as you have a dime to spend. Learn now that the female breast is not something to quake in fear of, and you might not turn into an underwater alcoholic SUV-driving spendo-manic with not enough time in the day to watch the 500 channels on the plasma TV you’re 3 payments behind on…”

  10. Johnny

    I heard there’s a bunch of women (well, about two dozen) who are seeking sponsorship from local businesses and national corporations to advertising on their breasts.

    A “really nice” pair of breasts with guaranteed 1 hr. show-time can bring $215 from what I understand (that’s one color sharpie, text only; decals/logos/multi-color are extra).

    “Eat At Salsa’s”

    One national chain in considering a group buy with choreographed display. Still in preliminary stages on that one, I understand.

  11. Dionysis

    Looks like Da Mayor and Council have come around to Carl Mumpower’s way of thinking. I am sure he is pleased as punch.

  12. How is it local government’s business to either encourage or discourage attendance at a legal political rally?

    • bsummers

      Well, Mr. Peck, it’s not like they’re deliberately feeding them false information or anything… BTW, have you gone out to all the venues where you previously posted false information on the water system, and corrected the record yet?

  13. Margaret Williams

    Please stick to the topic at hand (Council’s statement on the GoTopless rally). The water-system issue is covered elsewhere. And please refrain from sniping at each other.

  14. Ascend (of Asheville)

    I think the participation in the topless event should be…curated. Self-selection for exhibitionism has never been a winning proposal.

    I was so hoping that the mayor and vice mayor were going to participate in the event. I’m bummed.

    But seriously, if the aim is to demystify, de-sex and defuse the tension about openly unclothed bodies, why make an event out of it? Would it not be more true to the goal to just do it, whenever you feel like it, in whatever grouping you happen to be in and not corrupt it by making it a sideshow carnival?

  15. glolady

    WOW the day is about Woman’s Equality but where do I read or hear about the rally in Pritchard Park? Telling them to stay away from learning Truth?

    It is sad the Fear created by Religions today. The naked body clothed because we ate an apple? Clothing that hides many sins of the flesh.

    Going to a Nudist Colony I found the nonchalant attitude of all ages of naked bodies appealing. People actually looked at your eyes to talk and not at your breasts when clothed.

    We as a Society pervert and criminalize the Stupidest Natural Things!!! Get a grip and your minds out the gutters….

  16. Elizabeth

    I think it’s ridiculous that the council feels the need to urge people not to attend, I also feel the rally itself is useless. If you want to change attitudes abotu naked women then by all means walk about topless on a daily basis. A once time or once a year rally only serves to make a spectacle of yourself and does not help change attitudes. In fact it seems like the rally has encouraged some to begin trying to pass ligistation to actually outlaw it. So well done there.

  17. mentisflux

    To the mayor, city council and breast shamers: THE ISSUE IS ABOUT EQUALITY AND BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. Your first priority is to protect the rights of the people, not defend some religio-conservative aesthetic.

    Why are you so scared of some breasts? I am personally much more offended by some big hairy male (with breasts) who is “allowed” to bare all in front of my delicate children. ;)

    And what if a woman has had a double mastectomy – is she free to go topless as are her male counterparts? What about transgendered people?

    I will be very angry at our elected officials if any push is made to prohibit female toplessness without an equal ban on male toplessness – and I am a male.

  18. TJ

    @Barry: you’re asking Tim to make sense and admit he is wrong? You know him better than that.

    GL: the truth is that breasts will always be seen as sexual, even tho’ it’s the source of life for all-starting out…well, I won’t go there about 3rd world countries and, formula here. Anyway, as well-pointed out, once a year means nothing-but, trouble.
    We have folks saying they object, but, willing to sacrificially spend their time taking photos for website display to “embarrass” women- who, obviously, are not embarrassed. I see it more as vicarious pleasure.
    I would NOT take my 7 yo, or, 15 yo old there, to watch folks staring and jeering or yelling, whatever, and, say that is how women should be treated. I also wonder how many men could walk around shortless, exposing their life giving genitals, without some woman calling 911 about indecent exposure, and, endangering children? I probably would. There’s NO excuse for rape, but, you seriously expect society to take a leap from “she wore the wrong clothes” (which is still heard), to, “she wore no top, but, it’s okay” in the same century? Don’t you know human behavior better than that? Elizabeth’s right, once a year isn’t enough for that. You’d have to go to work daily to do that in any real way.
    Oh, and it IS odd CC can’t do anything, but, if my children were there, either I would get investigated as a “neglectful” parent, or, they could get arrested for acts in the presence of a minor. How does THAT work, if it’s not wrong?

    I am glad women can publicly breastfeed, but, I think I’ll save my activism in Occupy for the corporate whores and leeches that truly prey on ALL of us- male AND female.

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