I would like to comment on the July 20 Mountain Xpress article "Gay is the New Local.” Having enrolled in the sixth grade at Swannanoa Elementary in 1961, I consider myself a local, even though I lived in five states and two foreign countries before the age of 12 (Air Force brat). I know the value of being welcomed to a new community, as I was often the new kid in town until I finally arrived here. I make it a habit to welcome newcomers as long as they seemed to embrace local culture.
When I was building a new house, a friendly guy from Boston offered his services as an electrician if I needed one. I thanked him and told him I was covered on that and asked, "By the way, where are you from?" "Boston," was his thickly accented reply. I said, "Welcome to the Smokies." "Oh, I've been heeah four ye-ahs aweready," he proudly announced. My reply: "Like I said, welcome to the Smokies.” He laughed and I had made a new friend.
In the article, the authors state: "Many of the things that make Asheville great, the vibrancy of art, the culinary innovation, the preservation of the landscape, the delightful range of family life, are brought to you by LGBTQ Ashevillians." This comment seems a bit presumptuous. True, we welcome the gay community’s contributions, and many they are, but this community has been being built for decades and continues not because it's gay, but because of the peripheral view held by the locals and all those newcomers that come here because it's already cool. Credit is not taken, it is given where it's due. And by the way, "Welcome to the Smokies.”
— Bruce McTaggart