CommunityPam's House Blend

Bigotry in NC ski country

This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in my state. While I am not surprised at the depth of contempt some have for gay and lesbian citizens, this story is a reminder that you can be fired simply for being gay.

House Blender Ann, who is over in Asheville (an otherwise gay-friendly city in NC), alerted me to the plight of two friends of hers that married in Massachusetts. When they returned to NC, the Asheville Citizen-Times made history by agreeing to print their submitted photo and wedding announcement. Ann covered this landmark event for the local gay paper. That’s all the good news. Here’s Ann:

Soon after, the lovely couple was dismissed from their employment. Here is the link to a site that explains what happened:

Since NC is a ‘right to work state’ there seems little hope of suing the company and winning. So, the couple have decided to launch a media campaign. I put them in touch with some folks I know at GLAAD who have offered some very good advice on how to proceed with their campaign. I am sure there are some Blenders who might ski in NC and wanted to let them know what was going on.

Here is the letter from Laurel.

Hello All,

I’m writing to let you know about a recent development with my business and to ask for your support.

As many of you already know, Virginia and I recently got legally married in Provincetown, Mass. Upon our return to Asheville, we decided to submit our wedding announcement to the Asheville Citizen-Times. Much to our delight, the newspaper readily accepted our announcement and ran it in the Nov. 6th issue. To our knowledge, this was the first same-sex wedding announcement with photo that was run in the AC-T.

We received much positive feedback about our wedding and about our decision to submit our announcement. Unfortunately, we also lost our winter business. It seems that the owner(s) of Wolf Laurel Slopes, where we had been doing ski and snowboard photography for the past two seasons, did not want us there any longer once they heard about the publication of our announcement. While they initially gave us some reasons that did not hold water, they eventually confirmed that they did not want us there because we are a lesbian couple.

Orville English, the primary owner, gave me the news that we could not do business there at a very late date, just two days before the ski season was scheduled to open, and after Virginia and I had spent the previous month preparing and ordering supplies for this season.

For the past two seasons, All Terrain Images was allowed to take and sell photographs of skiers and snowboarders in exchange for allowing the ski resort free use of a variety of our photographs in its marketing materials. While English and his partner, Rick Bussey (also affiliated with Blue Ridge Savings Bank and Scenic Wolf Ridge), decided to terminate the part of the agreement allowing us to operate and generate income at their resort, they decided they would continue using our photographs for their own benefit.

We have always been extremely professional and conducted a respectable business at Wolf Laurel, and we added a valuable service to skiers and snowboarders who visited the resort. We have gone out of our way to provide excellent quality photographs for Wolf Laurel’s use in promoting their resort. We’ve made the ski area look good in our photographs, which is not always an easy task on these particular slopes. Additionally, we’ve spent many extra hours photographing subjects at Wolf Laurel, and restoring old photographs, at the specific request of Mr. English for his own personal use.

The income from our work at Wolf Laurel was vital to All Terrain Images. We are very disappointed that Mr. English and Mr. Bussey have allowed their prejudice to get in the way of an otherwise good working relationship.

How you can help:
First, please forward this email to everyone you think may be interested.

Second, since our website is advertised in the current Ski Wolf Laurel brochure, we have posted information on our site about this issue. Please check it out (more website hits means better search engine results and more publicity).

And finally, if you disagree with the actions of the Wolf Laurel owners, please let them know by sending a written letter and/or email. If you have the time and inclination, we believe that personalized letters make more of a difference than form letters.

[Here is a form letter that you can use — the template is in MS Word format.]

…To send a letter to Wolf Laurel, please use the following addresses. The reason for two addresses is because the mail system at the resort is not the most reliable. Additionally, If you are willing to use two stamps, sending a copy to Mr. Bussey at Scenic Wolf Ridge, will certainly have an impact.

For the following address, do not include any names on the envelope, but only use them in the letter:

Wolf Laurel Slopes
P.O. Box 969
Mars Hill, NC 28754

For the following address, include Rick Bussey’s name on the envelope:

Mr. Rick Bussey
c/o Scenic Wolf Ridge Resort
104 North Main Street
Weaverville, NC 28787

If you prefer to use email, please send to: Make sure you address your email to Mr. Orville English and Mr. Rick Bussey, or to “Wolf Laurel Slopes Owners” in order to ensure the email gets to them. Believe it or not, the marketing director will likely have to print it out and take it to them, as to our knowledge neither owner has a direct email address.

Thanks for your time and support.


All Terrain Images, Inc.

Get the word out, folks.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding