Eagle County LGBTQ committee works towards goals established at June Pride event | VailDaily.com

Eagle County LGBTQ committee works towards goals established at June Pride event

Small committee works to further mission: connecting LGBTQ locals and allies

Four months after Eagle County’s first organized Pride event, the LBGTQ community in Eagle County is following through on ideas first established back in June.

LGBTQ locals and allies can see that in action at a donation-based Sass Class with Jonathan Royse Windham, a Vail native whose dance career has taken him through prestigious performing arts opportunities.

Sass Class is also known as Vogue dancing, a New York City style that Madonna made popular. The class is from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15 at More2Dance in Eagle. The event is hosted by the new Eagle Co. Pride committee. The event capacity is limited and masks are required, per public health guidelines and the More2Dance’s commitment to following them.

Windham most recently performed in a Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” and just joined More2Dance as an instructor. In 2013, he performed with members of the New York City Ballet at the Vail Dance Festival and has taught in higher education, including Harvard University, the University of Michigan and more.

“We are thrilled to be cohosting this event with him,” said Orlando Ortiz, a member of the new Pride committee.

Back in June, Eagle County Pride’s first organizer, Britny Rose, thought a small committee of community members, including some LGBTQ youth, should develop a mission statement, organize events and further goals of equality for all sexualities, gender expressions and identifications.

Now, the Eagle Co. Pride committee is composed of eight adults and will add two youth members as it becomes more established. It has hosted several outdoor yoga events in Nottingham Park and released a mission statement.

“A group of Eagle County residents united together to help grow and strengthen the LGBTQ+ community and its allies within Eagle County. Through development of support programs and organizing social events, we look to create awareness, visibility and friendships, while celebrating pride, diversity, community inclusion and equality,” the statement reads.

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“We have a core group of us that have been meeting every other week by Zoom,” Rose said. “We’re saying, ‘What do we want to do?’ I came here with this idea, but what is this entity going to actually be?”

Manifesting those ideas has started with the simple premises of breath and mind-body unity: yoga.

Eagle Co. Pride’s first event was Yoga in the Park with Christy Samuelson, who donated her time and instruction to 20 participants. The second Yoga in the Park event was with Jose Pablo “JP” Alvarez, Ortiz’s cousin and newly-certified yoga teacher. Alvarez has also taught Yoga en Español community donation-based classes at Anahata Yoga & Wellness in Minturn, as well as scheduled studio classes.

“Thank you for creating this awesome space and group for the LGBTQ community in Vail,” Alvarez said as he finished the yoga practice.

Eagle County Pride’s Yoga in the Park event with instructor Jose Pablo Alvarez ended as the sun set over Nottingham Lake in Avon.
Casey Russell | crussell@vaildaily.com

As the weather cools down and outdoor yoga is no longer possible, Eagle Co. Pride hopes to host events inside, possibly at the Avon Recreation Center.

But beyond socializing and hosting events, Eagle Co. Pride’s main goal is to ensure that all LGBTQ community members know there are others like them locally, and that they always have a space where they can be themselves.

“It really became a snowball effect,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been here for 16 years, and it’s always crossed my mind, you know. But I never did anything about it.”

Ortiz joined the Family Leadership Training Institute of Colorado, an initiative from Colorado State University that’s focused on creating “healthier, more inclusive communities.” He needed to pick a passion project and wanted to start an LGBTQ community group. Classes stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but when Eagle Co. Pride came along, Ortiz was all in.

“I’m going to make this my project. I’m willing to put in the work. It’s awesome,” he said.

To keep up with Eagle Co. Pride’s events and the local LGBTQ community, join the Eagle County Pride Facebook group for updates and support.

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