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“Queer Voices of the Past and Present”: Documenting, Remembering, and Celebrating LGBTQ Lives in Western North Carolina

06/02/2022 @ 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Join the Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) Thursday, June 2 at 6PM as we kick off our month of Pride and LGBTQ+ history programming. This event airs live via Zoom.

West of Asheville there has been little research on LGBTQ history or activism. Just last year, Dr. Travis Rountree and colleagues from Western Carolina received an internal grant to expand drag performer oral narratives to include other LGBTQ+ voices from Jackson County, NC. Our speakers will talk about how collecting these voices helped to recognize LGBTQ groups established from the 1960s to current, newly formed, local LGBTQ organizations. They will also touch upon how these narratives helped to spark the first ever Sylva Pride (the first Pride to occur west of Asheville) in addition to a local community production inspired by some of these voices. These collections and events are critical in recognizing the past and present LGBTQ voices of Western NC.

About the Presenters:

Dr. Travis A. Rountree is an assistant professor in the English Department at Western Carolina University. He earned his PhD from the University of Louisville, his MA in English from Appalachian State University with a certificate in Appalachian Studies, and his BA in English from James Madison University with a minor in American Studies. He is from Richmond, Virginia, but lived in Boone, NC for 9 years.

Dr. Rountree’s research interests include queer archival research and pedagogy, Appalachian rhetorics, place-based pedagogy, and public memory studies. He has been published in The North Carolina Folklore JournalJournal of Southern History, and Appalachian Journal. He continues to work on his manuscript under contract with University Press of Kentucky titled Hard to See Through the Smoke: Rhetorical Remembering of the 1912 Hillsville, Virginia Courthouse Shootout.

He enjoys running, weight lifting, and gardening. He is an avid fan of old time, bluegrass, and country music and lives in Sylva, NC with his two cats.

Sarah Steiner is the gender and sexuality studies specialist at Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library. She also coordinates the Jackson County LGBTQ+ archive at WCU.

Tickets: $5 for WNCHA members/ $10 for General Admission. We also have no-cost, community-funded tickets available. We want our events to be accessible to as many people as possible. If you are able please consider making a donation along with your ticket purchase. These donations are placed in our Community Fund, which allows us to offer tickets at no cost to those who would not be able to attend otherwise.

Viewing: Registrants will receive a Zoom link with which to view the program. It will also be recorded and later available on our website.

(Image: “Lavender Bridges First Year Anniversary” courtesy Western Carolina University, Hunter Library Digital Collections)


For questions or more information, email Trevor Freeman at


Western North Carolina Historical Association received an American Rescue Plan Humanities Grant from North Carolina Humanities, Funding for this grant was provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the American Rescue Plan Act economic stabilization plan. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of North Carolina Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)