As someone born and raised in Asheville, I was happy to see the Asheville City Council and Buncombe County Board of Commissioners adopt LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections last month. These protections are an important step in the right direction for our city and county.
I’m proud to be from Asheville because of the city’s beauty, thriving small-business community and long-standing commitment to inclusion. As a queer woman, I did not feel safe in many parts of North Carolina following HB2’s passage in 2016. But I always felt welcome when I returned home. I can’t overstate the significance of seeing rainbow flags or signs that read “Y’all Means All.”
And yet, until last month, discrimination was still permissible in our area. I’m grateful that local leaders have worked to make the feelings of inclusion I’ve experienced now a legally prescribed reality for all LGBTQ+ people. As queer people, we often must check whether a destination is safe for us to explore. Will my partner and I be safe if we hold hands walking down the street? Will the hotel cancel our reservation if they realize two women booked a one-bed room?
I’m glad that Asheville and Buncombe County have taken action. These inclusive ordinances show LGBTQ+ visitors that Asheville is a safe community to visit and will make LGBTQ+ residents feel valued. I’m excited to celebrate this progress and keep pushing forward.
— Delaney James