Out & About Today Nashville Channel 5
Latest On Outvoices
Trending around OUTvoices
Anouk Patty has a message — “When you’re your true self, you’re your best self every day.”
As the recently named “Chief of Sport” for U.S. Ski & Snowboard — the organization that, in part, represents the United States in competitions like the Olympics, and as an openly gay woman and former member of the team, Patty knows how important that message is.
When she was on the team in the 80s and early 90s she was not out, and for good reason. “Society then was very, very different,” she told OUTvoices in an exclusive interview. “It was not super-accepted to be gay. It was not something people talked about. The sports world was pretty homophobic."
Anouk Patty, Chief of Sport for US Ski & Snowboard
Photo courtesy of U.S. Ski and Snowboard
But the world is different now than it was. “Everything is different,” she said.
Part of that is because some athletes have taken that giant step to live in their truth in the past few years.
The cover of ESPN Magazine in which Gus Kenworthy came out of the closet.
Photo courtesy of Gus Kenworthy Twitter
Seven years ago, U.S. Ski & Snowboard team member (and legit heartthrob) Gus Kenworthy, fresh off his Silver Medal in the Sochi Olympics, came out of the closet during an interview with ESPN. As if that wasn’t enough, at the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018 he shared a smooch with his boyfriend on live television.
Asked what impact that had, Patty didn’t mince words.
“It was pretty monumental when Gus came out,” she said. “He’s super nice, super handsome, really good. He had everything there. When he came out, people really paid attention.”
Patty noted that even though Kenworthy would later compete as part of the U.K. team (his mother is British) Kenworthy is still “beloved” in Park City, where the U.S. team is headquartered. “Gus is phenomenal,” she said. In fact, he’s their unofficial poster boy. Like, really. Patty says there’s a big poster of Kenworthy in the kitchen of the team’s Park City headquarters.
“It’s not just because he’s gay,” Patty said. “It’s because he’s wonderful and he cared and he had a purpose and a cause and he cared about it — and he did something about it.”
It’s an example Patty herself is following.
Since Kenworthy’s coming out, Patty noted, the progress has slowed. There haven’t been many other athletes on the team who have come out and there haven’t been a lot in the other sports, with one major exception.
Two-Time US National Alpine Ski Champion Hig Roberts
Photo courtesy of Higs Roberts via Twitter
Two-time U.S. Champion Hig Roberts (another legit heartthrob) became the first elite men’s Alpine skier to come out. Roberts made the revelation at the end of his career in 2020. Roberts’ experience mirrored in many ways Patty’s own a few decades earlier. In an interview with The New York Times, Roberts said “Not being able to be who I am and not be openly gay as a professional athlete was truly hindering my performance.”
Like Kenworthy, Roberts’ purpose to come out was, in part, to send a message to young skiers that they can compete at the highest levels regardless of their sexuality.
“I love this sport more than anything,” he told the Times. “I’m so lucky and privileged to be doing this — but I can’t go on another day not trying to achieve the person that I am meant to be. Which I think for each and every one of us … needs to be happiness and authenticity.”
Roberts’ coming out, according to the Times, added the number of openly gay elite-level skiers to just four. The other two, Anja Pärson, a former Alpine skier from Sweden, came out as lesbian in 2012, and Erik Schinegger wrote a book in 1988 about his experience as a transgender and intersex skier after coming out in 1968.
While the bravery of Kenworthy and Roberts and their predecessors is noteworthy and incredible, Patty says there’s still more work to do before the Team has reached its full potential of being a welcoming place to all athletes of every stripe. She also recognizes the power to effect that kind of change systemically lies with her.
“I have the opportunity to actually make a difference in this specific area,” she said. “I’m working hard to make it a really inclusive, welcoming environment.”
When will that work be done? It’s not easy to say, but Kenworthy and Roberts have helped, to be sure. “We have a Trans athlete on the team now who is a named athlete,” she said. “We’re inching along.” But she’d like to see more.
“When we have a truly inclusive culture where athletes are not only comfortable being their true selves but embrace it and we have some openly gay athletes who can be role models for the next ones, then I’ll feel good about it. We’re not there but we’re taking the first step in creating that environment where we can be there.”
As a sign of how far skiing and snowboarding has not come, earlier this year Italian skiier Sofia Goggia, the 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist in Alpine skiing made a statement that implied gay men weren't cut out for the rigors of the slopes professionally. Goggia, who apparently had never heard of Hig Roberts, had been asked if she thought there were any gay professional skiers. "Among women, yes," she said. "Not for men, I would say." Her reasoning? "You have to throw yourself down the Streif in Kitzbühel."
In subsequent tweets, Goggia would apologize, but not for the statement, only to those who were offended by it.
While Patty's efforts at diversifying the team and the sport are notable and courageous, there may be some blowback, as people like Goggia aren’t accustomed to cultural change, especially in high performance sports.
“It’s not always a smooth ride,” Patty said. “The way you handle the paradoxes you’re presented with define who you are as a leader. I think it’s the same thing for those of us who are openly gay and in leadership positions. I get it, not everyone’s gonna love it. Thats ok with me but it doesn’t stop me.”
For the third year in a row, Pride Ride is happening at Homewood Mountain Resort in North Lake Tahoe. It was created as a way to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community with a weekend of skiing and a lot of fun events like dinner and a drag show, including Deja Skye from Season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. There’s a meetup, a post-ski party with a DJ, a pride parade, and a dual slalom drag race to see who is the fastest drag queen.
This all takes place at Homewood Mountain Resort from March 24 to March 27, 2022! This event is a fun, inclusive weekend full of events and activities organized in collaboration with LGBTQ+ non-profit partner Project MORE and area businesses, Pride Ride was created to celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community.
Along with a weekend of skiing, they are hosting a variety of mini-events both on and off the mountain including a Dual Slalom Drag Race, Ski Parade down Rainbow Ridge, Virtual Raffle, and more.
Here's what to expect:
Dinner & Drag Show | Friday, March 25 at West Shore Cafe & Inn (Across the Street from Homewood)
Enjoy a three-course meal as you are entertained lakeside during Pride Ride’s first-ever Dinner & Drag show at the West Shore Cafe. Featuring Deja Skye from Season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, this amazing show includes talented drag artists from throughout Northern California. Tickets are $100 per person plus tax and gratuity and reservations are required in advance. Doors open at 6 pm and the show will begin at 6:30 pm.
Ski/Snowboard Meetups | Saturday, March 26 & Sunday, March 27 at 10:00 am, meet at the bottom of Madden Chairlift
Meetup for a casual group ski/snowboard on both Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10 am at the bottom of the Madden Chairlift. Meet new people, take a few laps and enjoy the Homewood big blue view! View our trail map here.
Apres Pride | Saturday, March 26 & Sunday, March 27 from 2 pm to 5 pm, at Homewood’s North Base area
Keep the post-ski party going off the mountain with Après Pride at Homewood’s North Base on Saturday and Sunday. Keep warm next to the outdoor fire pits and grab a drink as you enjoy DJ Cisco playing at the base of the mountain. Reminisce about your day as you hang out with old friends and meet new ones! Entry is free.
Rainbow Ridge Pride Parade | Saturday at noon, meet at the summit of Old Homewood Express.
Join us for our 3rd annual Rainbow Parade! Appropriately placed on Rainbow Ridge, our signature 2-mile long beginner trail, this parade is set to stretch from peak to shore while showcasing everyone’s colorful ensemble all the way down. Be sure to bring a flag and colorful attire, we’ll be filming this celebration from above with a drone. Simply meet us at the summit of the mountain (on top of the Old Homewood Express chairlift) at 12:00 pm to join. View our trail map here.
Dual Slalom Drag Race | Saturday from 1 pm – 3 pm starting at the Big Blue View Bar
Who is the fastest drag queen of them all? We’re ready to find out. From 1-3 pm on Saturday, we’re hosting a free-to-enter race where we’re asking for all participants to dress in their best drag ensemble as they race head to head with other competitors. The top 3 finishers will be rewarded with a handful of prizes! Registration is free, open to all ability levels and can be made the day of the event at the Big Blue View Bar starting at noon.
What's been a winter tradition for 45 years continues in 2022 as the Aspen Gay Ski Week (AGSW) event is happening from January 16 to January 22, 2022.
This will be a week of snow bunny in-person get-togethers on and off the slopes. Keep in mind, organizers are still finalizing all the details and protocols for crowd safety, but you can start planning for your trip, including purchasing your pass right now.
The history of the weekend goes back to the late 70s. A group of men who loved skiing decided they would band together with other ski clubs to create a celebration every winter. Back then each club would host a gathering where “let’s put on a show” was the common theme.
For many gay people back then this was their only escape away from the hustle and bustle of a prejudiced world. The events became quintessential to enthusiasts who enjoy snow sports and the socialization of like-minded adventurers.
"One party became many parties," reads the official events page. "Hot tub get-togethers became the Saturday night pool party. Spur of the moment “catch as catch can” drag shows became the downhill costume contest. Disco became house and then deep house, electronica, and dance. Well of course it began as a way to meet guys and have fun. But at its roots Aspen Gay Ski Week is also about politics and civil rights."
Even though the gay rights movement was making progress, some parts of the country considered liberal were still operating on cautious trepidation. Aspen was one of those places.
One of the founders of AGSW, Jon Busch, was arrested for dancing with a man in Aspen which began his fight for equality --- a fight he eventually won in the resort town in 1979. Boulder and Denver would eventually follow.
Then in 1992, "Amendment 2" was passed which stripped the LGBTQ community of everything they had fought so hard to get in Colorado.
"This constitutional amendment revoked and repealed all existing gay rights legislation such as Aspen’s and prevented any further gay rights legislation from being passed either at the local or state level. It was a blow and not the good kind. There was liberal outrage across Colorado and the United States to this effort to deny gays basic civil rights and liberties."
People started to effectively boycott Colorado which did a lot of damage to their tourism trade. And when Hollywood got involved the fate of a once-thriving tourist industry was buried beneath the cold.
Because of these setbacks and the increase in for-profit ski weeks. AGSW became incorporated in 1996 as a non-profit business.
Finally, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Amendment 2 was unconstitutional; a decision upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States. Eventually, the courts ruled in favor of gay civil rights, not just in Colorado, but the entire country, and LGBTQ tourism became a monetary force to be reckoned with.
Neither inequality nor Coronavirus can keep the community down for long. The AGSW event in 2022 is gearing up to be one of the best ever. Following safety guidelines and other protocols, skiing in Aspen is back.
With food gatherings, great entertainment, and of course plenty of schussing, AGSW is going to be a fun event that's been over four decades in the making.
For more information, including tickets and event details click HERE and get your gear together for a weeklong winter event.
*All photos courtesy of Aspen Gay Ski Week--Flickr.
If you're a snow bunny, chances are you have probably spent a weekend or two at the popular Lake Tahoe ski resort Squaw Valley. But this year as you make winter plans, be sure to note that the name has been changed to Palisades Tahoe.
According to the New York Times, the change is due to resort officials who acknowledge that the name "squaw" is insensitive and outdated.
"As much as we cherish the memories we associate with our resort name, we must accept that these emotional attachments do not justify our continuing use of a word that is widely accepted to be a racist and sexist slur," said Ron Cohen, president and COO of Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. "We will find a new name that reflects our core values, storied past, and respect for all those who have enjoyed this land."
Racial sensitivity has become a hot-button social issue over the past few years. In the case of the former Squaw Valley, officials simply hadn't done the research about the term until recently.
After a community meeting and a public survey, the fate of the old name was sealed.
“‘Squaw’ is a hurtful term, and we’re not hurtful people,” explained Dee Byrne, the president and chief operating officer of the resort, on Monday. “Palisades Tahoe totally aligns with our values and what we want to represent to the marketplace going forward.”
Byrne says the new title is a tribute to the terrain and history of the resort and the enthusiasts who have been using it over the past 70 years. Originally opened in 1949, the resort hosted the 1960 Olympics.
Native American iconography or stereotypical symbolism is used to promote everything from sports teams to food and beverages. Change has been slow in these areas.
The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California applauded the removal of the name at the resort, calling it a "bold" move.
“They were willing to do it,” Serrell Smokey, the tribe’s chairman, said in an interview with The New York Times. “They were not forced. Of course the tribe pushed them for many years. But the fact that they were willing to do the right thing and get rid of this very hurtful word that was in the name of their resort was just really bold.”
This is just one success story according to Smokey who says he's worked for many years to stop commercializing the word "squaw." He notes that at some point the word just became an accepted term.
“It affects all Native people across the country,” he added. “It was a term that was used to belittle others, mainly women, to dehumanize them so that it was OK for them in the eyes of the Americans to be abused, murdered, raped and turned into slaves.”
Although the new name will immediately be implemented, signage and other markers will undergo a transition to the new name starting immediately after the 2021 spring ski season.
The resort has already changed its social media handles to Palisades Tahoe following an announcement on September 13, 2021. They say it took about a year to finally decide on an appropriate name for the resort, but that does nothing to change the spot's place in history.
"While the name may be new," they wrote, "the legend and legacy of these valleys continue on, now as Palisades Tahoe."
In light of that statement, many commenters on Facebook showed their disapproval saying that the term "Palisades" is in fact, just as divisive, while others applauded the change.
"I'm glad the name change has arrived!" wrote Jessica Hickok. "Congrats on all the work you put into working with the community to find a new name. I'm glad that the racist slur is no longer in your name. 'Palisades Tahoe' is new to my ear, so will take a bit to get used to, but in time it'll feel just as familiar as the old name. I'll see you at Palisades Tahoe this winter!"