Aspen Gay Ski Week kickoff – it’s not just for gays
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – The 33rd annual Aspen Gay Ski Week opens Sunday with a party that organizers believe fits right in with their mission of tolerance and diversity. They’re planning an all-inclusive bash that they hope draws both gays and straights.
An opening night party at the Hotel Jerome traditionally kicks off the week, but this year, the event has been expanded to include a benefit fashion show that involves a host of area residents, according to Bryan Gonzales, program director for the Roaring Fork Gay and Lesbian Community Fund, which organizes Gay Ski Week.
“It’s something that we hope will turn into something much bigger and better as time goes on,” Gonzales said. “We’re trying to get the local, non-gay community to be a part of it – to be more involved. We’re trying to come up with an event that is more inclusive.”
So, in addition to cocktails and dancing, the evening includes a fashion show that will draw on the talents of locals who are donating their services as models, hairdressers and stylists.
“It’s being produced and run by your friends and neighbors,” Gonzales said. C Mel Definitive Style is producing the show.
Proceeds from the evening (admission at the door is $20; it starts at 8 p.m.) will benefit the area chapter of TEACH, or Teachers Empowering Agents of Change, a valleywide nonprofit that trains area students to recognize and diffuse situations of racism, sexism, bullying, homophobia and other forms of intolerance. TEACH was founded by a group of 15 educators from the Roaring Fork School District who were trained as part of a district initiative to maintain a safe educational environment for all students.
Gonzales said he often hears from locals who aren’t gay, but would like to be a part of ski week on some level. Sunday’s party and fashion show is a way to get involved and help a cause that the community fund supports, he said.
The community fund, Gonzales said, is putting greater effort toward advancing its goals – promoting tolerance, understanding and diversity through education, community action and service. “It’s not something we necessarily focused on in the past,” he said.
Gay Ski Week typically draws an estimated 1,500 to 3,000 attendees to Aspen and Snowmass for a week of skiing, dining, shopping and parties. Advance sales of lift tickets and event passes are way up, according to Gonzales, but the organization is never sure exactly how many people to expect. Many people don’t buy their passes in advance, or purchase an events pass at all, he said.
Gay Ski Week will also bring films to Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House on Monday and Tuesday evenings, and an annual comedy night at the Wheeler on Thursday. All are events that the general populace and visitors may enjoy, Gonzales said. The always popular, and typically racy, Downhill Costume Competition takes place at noon Friday, Jan. 22, on the Little Nell run at the base of Aspen Mountain.
A full schedule of the week’s events can be found at http://www.gayskiweek.com or by stopping by the host hotel, the Limelight Lodge.