A group of people in the Pikeville area is working to create a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.

HOME Appalachia was an idea sparked by Tasha Sams, who grew up in Eastern Kentucky, but left to find their place in the world.

“It has been a multi-year journey of kind of putting the puzzle pieces together,” said Sams. “It was certainly a really rough experience of growing up as someone who’s part of the LGBTQ community. And it’s a shared experience. It’s certainly not my own; it resonates with thousands.”

After leaving the area, Sams poured their talents and time into newly-found communities, seeing that many people in their circle left the mountains for the same reason.

“My synapses started firing and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh. What can we do to not only get this talent back in Eastern Kentucky, but to leave it there?’” Sams said. “In order, I think, to move those counties forward, and really pave the path that Eastern Kentucky deserves, you’ve got to keep people there. By ensuring that they have their community, they have support, they have access, they have opportunity. And more than that- that they are accepted and loved.”