Whatever it takes: In support of the LGBTQIA+ community

Amy Upham; photo courtesy of Upham

Amy Upham is the executive director of Blue Ridge Pride. The nonprofit works to promote equality, safety and quality of life for Western North Carolina’s LGBTQIA+ and allied communities.

Xpress: What was one of your organization’s greatest successes in 2023?

Upham: This year we hired our first full-time paid executive director.

Has Blue Ridge Pride expanded its partnerships this year? If so, who are some of the newest organizational members?

Blue Ridge Pride has greatly expanded its partnerships this year. We teamed up with 10 breweries for our Fridays With Pride monthly social, hiked with service members at Pisgah National Forest, greened our festival with the help of Blue Moon Water and Clean Crew, promoted LGBTQIA+ foster care opportunities with Caring for Children, partnered with Explore Asheville and Go Local on our business alliance’s Purchase With Pride initiative, and have teamed up with Grail Moviehouse, Bill Kaelin Marketing and WNCAP to launch a regional film series beginning in December.

What have been some of the greatest challenges your organization faced this year?

Our greatest challenge by far has been the anti-trans laws passed in North Carolina. They have hit our community hard and turned time that could have been spent serving individuals to time grieving with community and fighting back against senseless and oppressive laws.

How has the community shown up to show its support for Blue Ridge? Where might additional support be needed?

We are indebted to our community for their volunteerism (over 100 at the Pride Festival alone), our sponsors for their constant and enthusiastic support, and this year our donors who, through a new initiative — Blue Ridge Proud — are expanding our capacity to be more than just a festival. We definitely could use additional support from major donors, as well as institutional support from funders to ensure we are showing up in the ways our community needs. We are the major local Pride organization, and as such should serve as a resource hub for the LGBTQIA+ community.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.