The Blue Ridge Pride Center is a nonprofit founded in 2008 and estimates the region is home to some 35,000 people who identify as LGBTQ+.
Amanda Wray, project founder for the Pride Center, is an associate professor at UNCA, teaching women’s studies, gender and sexuality studies, and writing and rhetoric courses. Her academic work and her civic efforts concentrate on equity and anti-racist rhetoric, oral history research and community engagement within higher education.
“This project is a great example of cross-institutional collaboration, showing what can be achieved through coordination, a common goal and a shared spirit,” said Wray. “Our ambition is to sustain the project through grant funding, student learning and internship opportunities, and community volunteers. To date we have collected — and are in the process of digitizing — more than 60 oral history interviews and nearly 20 boxes of physical materials.”
Funded by a WCU provost grant in the spring semester 2020, the Jackson County Collection will involve undergraduate and graduate students at both universities and various community stakeholders, including the YMCA and oral history narrators.
The resulting collection will be included in WCU’s Hunter Library special collections and in Blue Ridge Pride Center’s Virtual Pride Center. There also will be a local event in Sylva to celebrate the ongoing project in the summer or early fall.