Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Today is November the 18th, and I am Margaret Small and I'm
Nancy Asch.:Nancy Asch who was born when September 30th, 1955.
Margaret Small:And where?
Nancy Asch.:In New York city.
Margaret Small:Thank you. Okay. This'll probably take an hour or but you can ask
for a break if you decide you need one. Just for a preliminary how do you
describe yourself personally in terms of pronouns and that stuff?
Nancy Asch.:She, her.
Margaret Small:And do you have any other important identifiers?
Nancy Asch.:I'm a lesbian.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy Asch introduces herself briefly to Margaret Small.
Keywords: Lesbian; New York City
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:The first question, just some background. When did you come to
Western North Carolina?
Nancy Asch.:In 2005.
Margaret Small:And what brought you here?
Nancy Asch.:My wife's sister live here and she was in the midst of a divorce and
nephews were very little and she really wanted us to come. We were living in
Boston and we were getting disenchanted where that is, it's getting very
expensive and very crowded. We were actually looking around, we looked at
Western Massachusetts, which I love. We looked here and then we actually saw
this house and we loved it and we decided to make the move. Beth got a job very
quickly; we moved much more quickly than we thought. I just sort of ended up
here all of a sudden.
Margaret Small:Yes. And since you've been here, what changes do you think have
happened since you came to Asheville? Both for the plus and the minus?
Nancy Asch.:Well, let's see. When we first moved here, it was definitely a very
small town, which in some ways I had idealized all my life growing up in Boston
and New York and other ways. I was very freaked out because it's the South and
I'm a tried and true Northerner. And it was a combination of, wow, this is so
cute, little town, everything's so easy and what the hell am I doing here? How
did this happen? And we are trying to come more outdoorsy. We were not that
outdoorsy. I mean, I was very much used to being in the city. As it's build up,
the good side is there's tons to do and we feel like we actually do more here
than we did in Boston. In terms of going to see stuff, to play a lot of music.
The cons are, it's getting really crowded.
Nancy Asch.:There was such polarity as in other places that we spend time in
where townies are being forced out because they can't afford it. And all the
things that made Asheville awesome are going by the wayside because it's getting
expensive. Sort of the playground on the rich. That's definite downfall.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy describes how she came to live in Asheville, North Carolina.
Keywords: Asheville, North Carolina; Western North Carolina
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Very cool. And how did you get to Boston?
Nancy Asch.:To Boston, Because after I graduated from college, I joined a
Collective in Philadelphia, which was a radical collective and we were building
a community program that were organizing people in Philadelphia. And it was, we
had a jazz school, we had a health clinic and we raised our own money. We would
not take any grants from the government. And much to the chagrin of my parents,
after graduating from Vassar college, I was living in Philadelphia collecting
money on the street and selling lollipops on the street to fund our project. And
then at some point I was there in the late 70s. I wanted to further my music
because that's really been the thread in my life and moved to Boston to go to a
program at Berkeley School of Music. That's how I got to Boston. But however, my
whole family, my mother grew up in Boston, my whole mother's side of the family
was in Boston.
Nancy Asch.:We always spent time there. My father lived in New York his whole
life. My mother was from Boston, we were familiar with it. I always loved
Boston. And then I went to Berkeley, that was in '82 and stayed till 2005. And
also went to social work school there, which I can talk about later. Because I'm
a social worker as well.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy describes how she came to live in Boston, Massachusetts before moving to Asheville, North Carolina and briefly discusses the colleges she attended.
Keywords: 1970s; 1980s; Berkeley School of Music; Boston, Massachusetts; Music Career; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Social Work; Vassar College
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:And where did you grow up?
Nancy Asch.:I grew up in New York, in the city, in the Bronx first in the Grand
Concourse and then Riverdale and loved growing up in New York and we would
always would do a lot of cultural things. My parents, my father was a judge and
my mother was a social worker. I've always had political, social activism in my
life. My sister was a psychiatrist, I did took advantage of a lot of things. In
those days in New York, things were really cheap. You could go to Broadway. My
mother was part of what was the theater development fund, which is now turned
into the TKTS whatever it is, the thing is square. But you could go to Broadway
for 3.99, $3 and 99 cents that is. I had a very rich cultural life. Pete Seeger
was the stepbrother of the person who was the principal of our school. I
was very much what you'd probably call your typical lil bro. Social activism
type person growing up in New York.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy briefly describes growing up in New York City.
Keywords: Childhood; Culture; Growing up; New York City; Politics; Social Activism
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Did you ever practice being a social worker?
Nancy Asch.:Oh yeah. For Boston. I practiced, I went to social work school in
1988, I graduated college in '77. And worked, I was a musician in Boston pretty
much. And then I realized I needed to get some other more steady jobs.
Laughingly I decided social work be the money maker, which is pretty sad. Social
work was the money making career and I had a long career in Boston doing mostly
HIV work and substance use, but mostly HIV and working with trans youth. And
those days a lot of it was grant Robert Wood Johnson, is that correct?
Nancy Asch.:And it was sort of the heyday, this is in the 90s, it was like,
awful time of AIDS. That's when AZT came out [antiretroviral medication used to
prevent and treat HIV/AIDS], and I actually was, my first very first job as
social work school was working in that we called the DEU Diagnostic Evaluation
Clinic. I was in primary care of the public hospital Boston. And this is where
people would come to either get tested-
Margaret Small:And which hospitals was that?
Nancy Asch.:Boston city hospital, which now is actually combined with, I can't
remember the name of it, but anyway, it's combined. And they would come in and
just having either found out they were HIV positive or being tested and then we
would do a whole evaluation and begin treating people. Gay men, a lot of heroin
addicts. And then from there I went to Beth Israel Hospital, which is now with
Deaconess hospital and I was part of the HIV psychiatry unit and did all mental,
outpatient mental health with HIV positive and AIDS people. And then from there
I went to a free clinic. It was called Justice Research Institute, which is a
big organization, but we were the Sidney Borum Clinic and with the free clinic
for youth 13 to 22 HIV trans.
Nancy Asch.:We came up with the first transgender protocol and actually people
from Fenway and Callen-Lorde came to meet with us to talk about the protocol.
And we were very off base in the beginning because we were put into this to off
a position of being gatekeepers and totally overstepping what was appropriate.
Thankfully people have been at very educated since then because we've got a lot
of flack, rightly so, because we were making these decisions and it was an off
and on the therapist.
Nancy Asch.:I mean I had to write letters for people and then I worked at Fenway
I worked in a whole lot of places in Boston and mostly doing that. And then when
I moved here, Beth had gotten a job and I was okay to not be working full time.
And I'd actually gotten a grant from Vassar College where I went, where anyone
over 40 can apply for this grant. It's called the Timeout Grant and it's
anonymous donor and they pick one person every year. And I was chosen that in
1999, 2000 and they gave you that time, $32,000 or 75,000 to take. You had to
leave your job and pursue something. I wanted to pursue more music. And at that
point I was actually the clinical coordinator of the clinic and I loved my job,
but I went with the grant and we spend time in Provincetown and I was doing
music and that was sort of the beginning of me not working full time as a social worker.
Margaret Small:[inaudible 00:09:09].
Nancy Asch.:I do. When we moved here, I looked at social work jobs, but that was
all what was when the whole the health system here was falling apart. It was
'05. I looked at some jobs and I was like, Oh, I can either make the same amount
of money doing really understaffed, crazy social work. And my fields were not
really around here because it was HIV. There wasn't much trans youth, gay youth,
nothing was happening here. Or I can teach music for the same amount of money
and I like, I'm gone with the music. I did work at Essence Recovery Center,
which was a private recovery center. And I mostly now I've done volunteer work.
I still have my license, I keep my license up and I look for part time jobs.
Nancy Asch.:But honestly I'd rather do the work, which is basic since I'd been
here, I work pretty much full time on political campaigns. '08, '12, '16. I'm
revving up now. I also worked for the Zedit fellowship, which is Katina's Rodis
fund. I mean, I'm sorry, the Mandel Rodis fund, which is two women who started a
fund that works with antisemitism and LGBTQ rights and they had a program and I
worked with them for a year or two. And I can get to later. Well, in terms of
gay organizations, Beth and I both were involved in youth outright. I think I
actually was involved first and I was the volunteer coordinator and the program
coordinator and we were both on the board and got that kind of up and running back.
Margaret Small:And when, what year was that in?
Nancy Asch.:I feel like it was I think 2007 I'm thinking. And then there was a
lot of friction and I stepped away from that. Because-
Margaret Small:And does that still exist?
Nancy Asch.:Yes it does. And as all nonprofits go through a lot of twists and
turns, but I hear they're up and running very well. And I've met the new
director who was at the meeting with Mandy Carter that we went to Adrian. I'm
glad that it's up and running and then we sort of shifted to Girls Rock and I
actually was one of the people who got Girls Rock off the ground and was a
volunteer coordinator and was very involved from really the first three, four
years. And I'm still involved. But I again step back a little bit, let other
people, because it was very all consuming.
Nancy Asch.:And now I'm on the board of WNCAP. To as your question I really miss
social work. I really miss the HIV world, which is kind of a weird thing to say,
but I was very involved and knew everything going on. I actually approached
WNCAP and joined the board and I'm really liking that because it lets me back
into that world and on a different level beyond a board member as opposed to
working. And yeah, and I mean I loved being a therapist and I love doing what I
did, but I feel like I contribute in other ways. Of course, it'd be great to get
paid for it, but I pay and my music has, I mostly play music and teach music.
Nancy Asch.:That's something that I'm able to do much more than I could do a
Boston just logistically, just everything. That's been a really great thing.
It's just harder to big city, we could have people over and rehearse and more
than, because Beth was teaching full time for so long. I've done a lot of
different things musically. And had a lot of really great experiences here with
people that I wanted to, been able to have otherwise.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy discusses some of the social work that she's done, as well as some of the volunteer work that she's done. A large part of her work was working with HIV/AIDS patients and trans youth.
Keywords: AIDS; AZT (Antiretroviral Medication); Asheville, North Carolina; Beth Israel Hospital; Boston City Hospital; DEV (Diagnostic Evaluation Clinic; Girls Rock Asheville; HIV Psychiatry Unit; HIV Work; Justice Research Institute; Musician; Nonprofit Organizations; Sidney Borum Clinic; Social Work; Substance Abuse Work; Trans Youth; Volunteer Work; WNCAP (The Western North Carolina AIDS Project)
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Besides for the HIV work and Girls Rock, like an outright, what
organizations or activities do you think in Western North Carolina are
beneficial to the LGBTQ community?
Nancy Asch.:Well, I definitely think the meetup for social things. The
Asheville, what's it called now? Actual Lesbian Social Club. It's like 1200
people and all, but lesbians are people who identify as lesbians in Western
North Carolina. And that's more of a social thing. But it's something I probably
never would have looked into in Boston, but here I mean, that's how we met a lot
of our friends. And it seems like there's different ways of it, which is great
because the people that we hang out with probably met I don't know, five, six
years ago, seven years ago. And I recently went to meet up and it was all new
people, which is awesome. They were like 30 people at this happy hour and I knew
like two of them.
Nancy Asch.:That's great. It's people we know, move here all the time, it's an
older crowd. That's one thing that younger people don't like. Because it's older
just that's how it seems to be. But we actually do have a number of younger
friends, but interestingly they don't usually go to the meetups, but we did meet
them through other people. That's one group. There's a group, but I'm going to
say the name wrong, but the Elder Advocates, LGBTQ, there's an elder group that
my friend Rowan was actually the head of. I'm not really involved in that, but I
think it's probably a great group. And just volunteer opportunities like with
WNCAP, because they always had people volunteering the quilt. I always
volunteered at the AIDS quilt through WNCAP.
Nancy Asch.:And I just saw that P flag has either back up or has it always been
happening in Hendersonville, which is great. It says parents and-
Margaret Small:Right friends. Right.
Nancy Asch.:Friends yeah.
Margaret Small:Have you felt like your community here in Asheville is supportive
of political activism and community engagement or, how would you describe their
attitude about your political activity?
Nancy Asch.:I think it's varied. I would rather have people, instead of saying,
Oh, that's so great, Nancy does so much. I would rather have them do it with me.
I've been really vocal in terms of definitely the presidential campaigns, strong
arming friends to come and help, imagine a lot on Facebook, but I always add,
hey, come help. Especially. Okay. There's two fold. One my friends here and I
actually have been pretty successful at least getting some of them down to the
last election too. I was helping manage the democratic office up on Haywood road
and people did come and made phone calls. That's heartening. And also my
Northern friends, his wife, I talked to my friends in Boston and New York all
the time and they're like, "Oh man, you're in the South. Oh my God, it's such a
mess." I'm like, well come down and help. "You don't need help in Massachusetts
. . .
Nancy Asch.:I try to like get people to come down. But I think there, I wish
there were more active people, more, I mean there is a lot of activity and I
think, I'm not necessarily the LGBTQ community, but I mean, I was just looking
at even for this election for voter registration. I mean there almost so many
groups you don't know who to go with because there's Democratic Party, there's
Indivisible, there's I'm Democracy Now. Michelle Obama just started an
organization that's looking for people to be team captains. And I was saying the
other day, do we really need another organization in Asheville because we're so
small, it's interesting. I think some of it's better for big cities. And I was
in saying it, some of the organizing meetings, it's almost like if we all came
together we'd be stronger.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy discusses the political organizations and activities that are beneficial to Asheville, North Carolina's LGBTQ community. She also describes what she thinks about people's opinions on the social activism that she does.
Keywords: Asheville Lesbian Social Club; Asheville, North Carolina; Community Engagement; Democratic Party; Girls Rock Asheville; LGBTQ Community; Political Activism; WNCAP (The Western North Carolina AIDS Project); Western North Carolina
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Totally. When you moved here and you guys were setting up this
new life here, like how did you find the ability to develop a community and a
support network in Asheville?
Nancy Asch.:Well, I was in shock and I was like, what the F am I doing here? I
really was, it took me a number of years actually. I was like, what am I doing
here? Because I moved here, didn't have a job, I was like, okay I will be
housewife. Because it was ... At that time, not now, that time is so much
cheaper than Boston. We were just like, Oh my God, we can insure our cars for
half the price. The house was so much cheaper. Everything was so much cheaper.
It isn't now, but it was, I wasn't working. That was really difficult. I
basically focused on finding people to play music with.
Nancy Asch.:And at that time we had a small circle of friends that we met
somewhere. Our neighbors Beth met, I think maybe similar schools. We had a very
small group of friends and that seems like a lifetime ago. And then I realized,
think it was through the meetup, it just shifted to get sort of a group of
friends. And it always shifts because in the meetup it's always like who's
breaking up with who? Who is coming? Yeah, I mean I think and again, I mean it's
that sort of thing of like I have like my tribe is my Boston New York,
Provincetown friend who spent a lot of time in Provincetown. Those are like, I
mean, I've known these people in the society and its great.
Margaret Small:Those're your family.
Nancy Asch.:Yeah. And then we have awesome people here we hang out with. It's
sort of almost the best of both worlds. And I think there are a lot of people
like, we just played a show that you were at. I mean, that was a lot of people
in most of those people were our friends and it was super fun. I feel like
people here also, what I do like is that it's people like come out, have fun. I
mean, it's like, I don't know the word, but I'd say that's how we met people.
I've met people who play music, at Girls Rock. Most of all the people that we
played music with actually I've met through I was the volunteer coordinator for
many years at Girls Rock. I single handedly met each potential volunteer, made a
connection with them-
Margaret Small:How well?
Nancy Asch.:I had 70 volunteers one year. That was, a lot of those people became
music. All the people you saw playing on stage were all through Girls Rock.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy describes how shew found the ability to develop a community and a support network after moving to Asheville, North Carolina.
Keywords: Asheville, North Carolina; Girls Rock Asheville; Musicians; Social Gatherings; Volunteer Work
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Do you feel like Girls Rock is established enough that it will
continue on into the future or do you think that it's life as any group?
Nancy Asch.:Hard to say.
Margaret Small:Hard to say.
Nancy Asch.:Because I have stepped back I'm not really as involved with the
inner workings. I mostly at this point volunteer ever year to teach drums and
that's sort of what my involvement is now. I will say though, Katie Kasmin,
who's one of our singers, because we have a class of singers Beth sister, Kim
Wilde sings with us. And Katie Chasm, how I met her, because I am an outgoing
person. I moved here. I literally took the mountain express at that time. It was
actually a great paper that people would list there, all this stuff. I met River
who's a drummer in town.
Nancy Asch.:I met Diana Shaheen who was one of my first friends who is now
passed away who was a magician belly dancer. And I started playing with her. And
Katie, I saw an ad that she had just put out a production of hair, which is one
of my favorite shows. And I was like, Oh my God, it's one of my favorite shows.
Let's have coffee. We had coffee. She said, "I love singing jazz." I'm like,
well, come over and weave. That was 15 years ago. They started playing with her
Lane Redman, who's passed away, who is very well known frame drummer and very
influential in the world of women drumming, was moving here. And I said, hey, I
want to come over and meet you. And ended up, you know, studying with her and
becoming a very good friend of hers and she passed away.
Nancy Asch.:[inaudible 00:21:13] was an amazing musician. I saw her saying, I
said, hey, I want to play with you, sing with you. And she became one of our
very good friends too. Sort of Asheville was the town where I could go get
craigslist and go over someone's house and not feel scared 15 years ago. I
wouldn't do it now. It's changed a lot. But that's how I made a lot of
connections. Just ...
Segment Synopsis: Nancy talks about the Girls Rock organization in Asheville, North Carolina and how it was a way for her to make many of the connections she had with multiple individuals.
Keywords: Asheville, North Carolina; Girls Rock Asheville; Musicians; Volunteer Work
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Do you think in Western North Carolina that being part of the
LGBTQ community brings in your contact with people of different race and class backgrounds?
Nancy Asch.:More class than race? I think and again, it's interesting because I
mean, I know also from my work at WNCAP, I mean Asheville is very different than
the rest of Western North Carolina as we know. All the rural people, I mean,
sometimes too big meetups, people are coming from like, hours away or like when
we use outright. People would come from Brighton city. I mean, people are
desperate. We have people that come from like two hours away to come to a happy
hour. Just let you know in more rural parts, and especially through my work at
WNCAP, I mean, the services are much more needed to be expanded out there. I
don't know what it's like out there, but I know Asheville, of course, there's
hope now because I think we've a lot of great young people, younger people who
are saying, well, we have to change the racial dynamics in Asheville. But that
was not true when we moved here, you know?
Nancy Asch.:I think that it's not as very. But in an interesting way. I mean
Boston is a very segregated city, it's not just that it's a small town. It's
interesting. I mean we'd probably, in Boston it was same type of issues just on
a bigger scale. New York, the only place I've ever lived where it actually is,
you are, the world is reflected in that, you may be in the minority as a white
person and that's the only place that's ever happened.
Margaret Small:That was just going to say in your life, knowing more people of
color in New York, how do you feel like that experience growing up in New York
affected your whole view of the world and relating to other people?
Nancy Asch.:Well I just think it made me more open. It's just very interesting
when you're just in your day to day life and you're on the subway. I mean, it's
just so different. This year you're in your car. Here I am by myself in my car.
One of the things they don't like about being here, but in New York, there's
just all types of people, whether it's black, Brown, Asian, everything. It's
just a totally different feel. I may has made me probably just more open. That's
what I probably should.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy describes if and how the LGBTQ community in Asheville, North Carolina has brought in contact with people from different race and class backgrounds.
Keywords: Asheville, North Carolina; Class; LGBTQ Community; Race; Racial Dynamics in Asheville, North Carolina; WNCAP (Western North Carolina AIDS Project); Western North Carolina
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Okay. Just to shift, I was wondering if you can talk about your
experience coming out and as youth and young person.
Nancy Asch.:Okay.[crosstalk 00:24:40] I probably knew but not knew, knew that I
was lesbian from an early age. Absolutely. Always had crushes on camp counselor
although I had boyfriends in high school and stuff like that. But definitely
whether it was movie stars or camp counselors, like Kevin Ross, one of my
favorite first crushes and actual poster of her. Coming out, I feel like it was
like I lived in Boston. I had a girlfriend and it was one of those
quintessential my parents saying, asking me, I think, "Are you gay, Are you
lesbian?" And I think I said something like, not at the moment or something
crazy. And then I do remember them was it my father, someone offering to like go
to therapy. I do remember that. I mean this is a long time.
Margaret Small:And how old were you then?
Nancy Asch.:Well then I was already to Boston. It was already 1982. I mean I
was, I don't know I was-
Margaret Small:In your 20s or somewhere.
Nancy Asch.:I was an adult or more than my 20s, but I had, my first girlfriend
was in college, my sophomore year of college. I don't know if my parents knew,
but they didn't say anything. We traveled during the summer, but officially
coming out was probably not until I moved to Boston. That was when I moved in
'82. Whatever that means officially coming out.
Margaret Small:Whatever that means. Exactly. How do you think it's different
being gay in Asheville than being gay in Boston?
Nancy Asch.:Well, I think part of it, I don't feel like it's different. I feel
like what's really different is that since my wife was teaching at a school
where it was not cool, she was very nervous and it was even a smaller town then.
It was being around you run into people. That was really painful and I hated it
or I would go to her shows. She wouldn't really introduce me to people. That was
really painful and just awful students. We didn't really think about it in
Boston because she taught at a college. I was working at all gay places. I mean
I've never really been not out as a social worker because, first of all, once
you work in HIV, people assume you're gay, which isn't always true. I was, you
in my professional social work career, I was never in and also before social
work school I was basically in, there was a whole gay rock scene in Boston.
Nancy Asch.:I mean I was all playing. It was all lesbian rock band, rock against
sexism was an organization. It was never, I was like, we did not I try to be
straight musicians. We were sort of on the more radical, it was [inaudible
00:27:40] punk. Coming here was a shock because there's a lot of conservatism here.
Margaret Small:And did that personally, besides for with your wife and her job,
are there any other ways that that personally affected the choices that you've
made about what you do here in Asheville?
Nancy Asch.:No, not really. Since I haven't had to be in sort of a nine to five
[crosstalk 00:28:07] work environment. Yeah anyone you would approached
obviously combining either combining music with activism or just activism. Not
Segment Synopsis: Nancy describes coming out and her experiences as a young adult during this time.
Keywords: 1980s; Activism; Asheville, North Carolina; Boston, Massachusetts; Coming Out; Gay; Gay Rock Scene in Boston, Massachusetts; HIV; Lebian; Lesbian Rock Band; Musicians; Social Work; Young Adult
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:What do you identify as that most significant changes in the
world since when you were young? Both just in general and then around like
you're developing identity as a lesbian.
Nancy Asch.:Repeat that question.
Margaret Small:Two parts first. Yeah, it's about the significant changes, over
your, not quite 65 years. What do you think have been important changes-
Nancy Asch.:I've got you, in the world.
Margaret Small:In the world. And then as far as being gay.
Nancy Asch.:Okay in general, the whole computer internet thing. And I don't know
how I feel about that Because it's so fucking insidious to have everyone on
their phone 24/7. I can't stand it myself included. That's the real change.
That's a huge change. There's so much information, so little social interaction
because I've always said I have been more the friend person, the friend getter
in our relationship or just as a person. And to me, having friends and
developing relationships is about on the ground time you hang out. My friends
would say, "You said you're going to hang around?" Because it's very different
than texting all day. That's one huge change. And obviously there are great
benefits to it, but it's changed everything. And we are very close to our nieces
and nephews and it's definitely changed how they interact.
Nancy Asch.:That's one thing. And of course, I mean don't know where do I even
begin? I mean, you know, climate change is just a terrible change. Yeah. I mean,
I think those are two huge things.
Margaret Small:Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Nancy Asch.:And then in terms of my development, I mean, obviously people are
more open except that they're still, there's so much homophobia and it's
depending on which way the pendulum swings. I mean, we haven't achieved it yet.
I mean, and I'm a white middle class person, I have a totally different
experience and so many other people who is just in her little bubble. I feel
like the number of black and Brown trans women that are killed every year is
just not stopping.
Nancy Asch.:I think there's so much work to be done and I think that, the
encouraging part is, of course, young people are much more open. But there's
like a thin line because they're open. And I hope that that is ... Say it
sometimes, because it's not always the safe not to mention guns. And there was
just another shooting, not just the shooting at the high school. I just read
this morning that the shooting at a party in Fresno, I mean, and not so much to
do with being gay, but just violence, violence begets violence.
Margaret Small:And in your own personal, you talked about the sense of being
excluded from in your wife's job in particular like in Asheville, have you seen
changes over the years? In terms of the stigma of being gay or just the issue of
inclusion or being excluded?
Nancy Asch.:I mean I was just thinking about, I don't know how many years ago it
was, I went around with probably transmission, with the bathroom bill. We went
around to downtown businesses and went in and looked people right in the eye and
said, would you put up this sign? And some would and some wouldn't. That would
say, "We are safe, this is a bath." I forget what exactly what it said, but I
think it said gender neutral bathroom. And some wouldn't and I feel like it's
better. But I definitely feel, I do not feel safe like holding Beth's hand in
some places around here. I didn't do in Boston either though. It's hard to say,
but definitely. I don't think this is the panacea that people always think it
is, because they're already like Asch oh, is so gay is so this, but there's an
underside to it that isn't so open.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy discusses significant changes and developments she's seen throughout her life and the ways that is has affected her
Keywords: Asheville, North Carolina; Black and Brown Trans Women Murdered; Climate Change; Computers and Internet; Developing Relationships; Development; Exclusion; Gun Violence; HB2 Bathroom Bill; Homophobia; No Social Interaction; Stigma; Violence; White Middle Class Experience
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Yeah. What do you think are the sort of valuable or
transformative things that your generation has done in relation to LGBTQ lives
that will really help future generations?
Nancy Asch.:Okay. Well let me just say one thing about the last question. If I
may, because this is a great example. For instance, we were playing at a new
club the other night and I didn't really know anything about the club. I am the
person that books the games. And he had heard something, we sent the news and he
said, "Great, let's do a thing." And I said, great, we had an eight o'clock, I
can definitely get my crowd there. And we had over 70 people. But I said to
myself, I hope he's not homophobic because it's me and a group of middle aged
lesbians being themselves. That I even had to think that. Is an example.
Nancy Asch.:And I really did think that. I was like, Ooh, I don't know anything
about this club. I hope there's not like people here who are going to harangue
us and that in 2018 or '19 I should say.
Margaret Small:It's almost done.
Nancy Asch.:Makes me pause. I just wanted to say the next question. I think
we've done a lot in terms of just of course working on marriage and some people
think that was not the most important thing to go after. But my generation in
terms of just visibility marriage right working rights, although as we see, a
lot of that can be turned back. I think the important thing is education to. In
Boston when I was saying I was working at the Sydney Back Clinic, we also had a
community center for gay and trans youth and the amount of history that they did
not know was shocking.
Nancy Asch.:And it was that thing of like, why should I come out? Why do I have
to come out? I don't really need to help anyone. I don't really need to be out,
just the whole idea of the hardships that people have gone through to come out
and be visible. The whole visibility thing I think is really important. I think
many people in my generation, bore the brunt of that, coming out and being
visible, and suffering whether physically, emotionally but came back to thrive.
But I also think that until we have a coalition of LGBTQ black and Brown people
and other people we just can't seem to get that coalition going. And that's-
Margaret Small:What you think are the factors that inhibit that?
Nancy Asch.:I think divide and conquer, I think just trying to prioritize
different people's struggles is a really tricky thing to do because in different
ways a lot of people are struggling. It's hard to come together. Urvashi Vaid
who I went to college with, who's a big organizer is one of the only people I
know who has been consistently working on this since her whole life and has now
organizations of coalitions raising money. And I'm totally blanking on the name
of her book, but I'd say 25 years ago she wrote a book that said, unless we have
this coalition, shit is not going to happen. And then 20 years later she's still
saying it. And I don't know why. It's a great question. But I see even in the
diversity group at Asheville, which I'm a guest member, it's very hard to get a
very group of people together.And moving forward.
Margaret Small:In the political work that you've done with the Dems, do you
think that working in that context is a good context in which to try and build
coalitions between LGBTQ people and the communities of color and Asheville?
Nancy Asch.:I think it's more a way to just elect who's ever going forward. You
know what I mean? I don't think so much. I think that what has not happened in
Asheville yet, and we sort of talked about it in let's see, '8, '12, '16, I'm
trying to think when it was at its height saying, we really want to get, well
no, it was after 45 was elected last time. And the bachelor of the station I've
ever seen was the 100 days, 100 days organization that people from CMI and other
people put together. And that was a start of actually coalition from a lot of
groups, and it was time limited, but something like that. Because I think-
Margaret Small:Is that going to start coming back, you think?
Nancy Asch.:I don't think so, but I think the way it would be, would be to get,
and we even organize like sort of the heads of all those groups to come together
because I think we're a small enough city where that should not be that
difficult because right now I can see from my email list, there's Indivisible,
Democracy Now, welcome Democrats.
Nancy Asch.:I'm just saying all the things that I get and why not all come
together at least a few times to plot out a strategy because I couldn't get
three or four emails say we're going canvassing this weekend. But it seems crazy
to have it all separate. I mean, that's something I'm interested in and working
with a group with Mandy Carter and Nicole Townson, maybe that group that I'm
sort of trying to understand what that group is. I think maybe that the idea
that is to do that, have one group that kind of tries to bring people together.
Margaret Small:That seems like it would be a real priority for people in the
LGBTQ community to really promote.
Nancy Asch.:If they feel politically minded. I mean I haven't seen a huge LGBTQ
political group, but I know when individual first started, you know right after
the election there was an LGBTQ, what do we call it-
Nancy Asch.:It's that Caucus. I don't know what happened to that. I would say
most of my friends, I would not say there are a whole lot of politically minded
people in the people I know. I can drag them to register to vote, which I do and
drag them to make phone calls. But I would not say it turns into action. Maybe
cerebrally yes they want to get 45 out. Yes they want it, but to actually do
work, I'm not so sure. And then there are others. I mean definitely, certainly
because people affiliated with campaign for Southern equality and all the other
groups. Yeah, of course there are a lot of people, but it's also a huge untapped
group who I don't think are really engaged.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy describes what valuable and transformative things she thinks her generation did to help future generations.
Keywords: Coming Out; Democratic Party; Education; LGBTQ Black and Brown People; LGBTQ Community; Marriage Rights; Nonprofit Organizations; Physical and Emotional Suffering; Political and Social Activism; Southern Equality; Visibility; Working Rights
Partial Transcript: Margaret Small:Another specific area to just get share your thoughts about in
terms of race in this town. You mentioned that both here in Boston is similar,
that they're both really segregated. cities in New York is sort of more like San
Francisco in the sense that existing there integrate your life. Do you know if
there's specific black or Latino organizations for LGBTQ people in the town?
Nancy Asch.:I do not. It's a good question. I mean, the only organizations that
I know of and which is not so that, but I'm just saying that also how to improve
things. Building bridges is a group that goes that trained does training. But I
would not say I know of any, I kind of wish I did, but I don't think there are.
And the people that I know, the black and Brown people I know through the
meetup, I would not call them so politically minded. I don't know if they would
know, but I could ask them.
Margaret Small:Do you find in the meetup groups that there's a wide range of
political identification or people tending more to be liberal or progressive or-
Nancy Asch.:I think it's really[crosstalk 00:41:54].
Margaret Small:Just really white people in general?
Nancy Asch.:Yeah, I think it's a mixture. I mean, I've been surprised at some
things that I've heard people say, because again, it's the South is people
coming in from rural places, not to stereotype, but yeah, I think it's a real
mixture. I need to a mixture and that just that, you know the most insidious,
Oh, I don't vote. Oh, I don't know what's happening. And again, I'm like a
political junkie, I mean, I will sit and watch five hours of testimony. Some
people, I mean, not only do they not have TVs, they don't want to watch anything-
Margaret Small:They don't want to know anything.
Nancy Asch.:That's troubling. They don't. I think there are a lot of people here
who God love them, they like to hike, be outside. They don't want to be so
involved with the political stuff, which is a real Achilles heel for me though,
because it's like in the last election, we had friends who, and I've said, it's
nice that you're white and middle class and if 45 is elected, it's probably not
going to make so much of a difference in your life, but trust me, there're a lot
of people is going to make a big difference, and that's, I believe that. It's
not going to impact you specifically. That's a problem. People don't get
motivated, because it is going to impact them specifically. It has.
Margaret Small:Is there anything else you'd like to share from your experiences,
which have been really broad? In thinking about, the future of the LGBT
community here in Western North Carolina, or, the progressive movement in general?
Nancy Asch.:Well, I just think my wishes would be a bit more varied in terms of
just class race because it'd be nice to have a wider range of friends and people
and people to motivate. Because it can be disheartening is not to have friends
that you like and hang out with, but not be like, okay, let's like have phone
call. Just one thing I'm planning to do for this election because I think it's
important. What I want as an activists, people like to do things together. This
whole issue of, in the last election it was very much pushed that you would sit
at home by yourself with your computer making calls. Well, no one's going to do
that. People volunteer. And as I said, I've been a volunteer coordinator, many
organizations and I've learned a lot.
Nancy Asch.:And I know, part of the reason people volunteer is they want to meet
people, not just sit at home with their computer. I'm going to organize, which
we did in '08 which, and we won. Obama won in '08 in this area and we had weekly
phone calls. I think trying to engage more people on that level. And yeah, I
mean, I don't want to live in an all white environment. We'll see what happens.
Margaret Small:Well, thank you very much.
Nancy Asch.:You're welcome. Thank you for your time.
Segment Synopsis: Nancy describes how she isn't aware of many organizations for LGBTQ Black and Brown people. She also discusses political identifications and how change happens from doing social and political work and educating yourself by keeping up with what's happening in the world.
Keywords: Asheville, North Carolina; Black and Latino Organizations for LGBTQ People; Class; LGBTQ Community; Political Activism; Political Identification; Political Organizations; Progressive Movement; Race; Stereotyping; The South; Volunteer Work; Western North Carolina; White People