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Anouk Patty has a message — “When you’re your true self, you’re your best self every day.”
Patty is the recently installed “Chief of Sport” for U.S. Ski and Snowboard — the group that, in part, represents the United States in competitions like the Olympics. As an openly gay woman and former member of the team, her message is also her mission.
When she was on the team in the 80s and early 90s she kept her sexuality under wraps, 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.”
That lack of acceptance may well have cut Patty’s promising career short. Already an outstanding and nationally ranked skier in her own right, had she been allowed to be who she was things may have been different.
Anouk Patty, Chief of Sport for US Ski & Snowboard
Photo courtesy of U.S. Ski and Snowboard
“I think I would have certainly been a lot happier and probably because I would have been happier I would have stayed with it longer.”
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 and 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 Schineggerwrote 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.
“So now 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, and Patty’s efforts are bearing fruit. “We have a Trans athlete on the team who is a named athlete,” she said. “We’re inching along.” But she’d like to see more.
“We’re getting there,” she said, but there’s more work to do.
“When we have a number of openly gay athletes on our team who are comfortable with it and embracing it and can be role models for the next ones, then I’ll feel good about it," she said. "We’re not there but we’re taking the first step in creating that environment where we can be there.”
While her efforts at diversifying the team and the sport are notable and courageous, there may be some blowback, as people aren’t accustomed to change, especially in a sport as rigorous and traditionally conservative as skiing and snowboarding.
As a sign of how far skiing and snowboarding has not come, earlier this year 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 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.
“It’s not always a smooth ride,” Patty said. “The way you handle the paradoxes you’re presented with defines 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. I don’t really care.”
With podcasts on nearly every topic imaginable recently, you'll know that there's something out there for you. They're such a great way to relax and learn something or to have something on in the background as you do chores. As you'd imagine, there are plenty of podcasts out there that explore LGBTQ+ themes or are created by LGBTQ+ creators. Here are some of the best LGBTQ+ podcasts that you need to check out right now.
Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness
Photo courtesy of Apple Podcasts
This podcast, hosted by Queer Eye superstar Jonathan Van Ness, is all about wanting to know more about the world around you. Every episode they sit down with an expert to talk about their field, so they can learn more about it.
Recent episodes have covered things like the Milky Way, Latin culture, how viruses spread, and so much more. It's a fascinating listen, one that you'll be sure to get a lot out of even if you knew nothing going into an episode. It's a lot of fun too, and you'll be sure to laugh as you learn.
Making Gay History Podcasts
Photo courtesy of Apple Podcasts
The problem with a lot of recorded history is that the stories of many LGBTQ people have been buried over the years. “If you want to know more about the history of your culture, then this is the podcast that you want to be listening to” says Anna Peters, an LGBTQ writer at Elite Assignment Help and Revieweal. “You'll find out a lot about the people who lead the way for LGBTQ people today.”
Host Eric Marcus, who also wrote the book Making Gay History, dives into the history of the people who made history but aren't given the recognition they deserve. That includes people like Jean O'Leary, Vito Russo, and Del Martin to name a few.
Girl That's Scary
Photo courtesy of Girl That's Scary Podcast
If you're looking for a podcast that gives you everything that's new in horror with an LGBTQ+ twist, then this is going to be the podcast for you. As a bonus, it's a black run podcast too. Hosts Jazzmin and Kathleen, aka Jazz The 40oz Connoisseur and Kat Daddy, spend each episode riffing on and laughing about the horror that they love.
The podcast has become popular as it has such a fun vibe. It's clear that the hosts are having a great time, and many feel that it's a great show to listen to just when you want some friendly voices in your ears.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Podcast
This podcast uses an interview format to talk to people from the LGBTQ community, whether that's big names or just everyday people, living their lives. Co-hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low make every episode fun and interesting, creating a light-hearted vibe that's easy to listen to.
“You'll want to make sure that you tune in, as they speak to people that aren't usually put in the spotlight,” says blogger James Farmer, from Essay Services and Custom Writing Services. “That lets you hear stories that you may never have heard before.” In recent episodes, you'll hear about the lives of black trans people, the gay and lesbian island kingdom in Australia, and much more besides.
Buffering the Vampire Slayer
Photo courtesy of Apple Podcasts
Who doesn't love a good recap podcast? This podcast takes queer favorite Buffy The Vampire Slayer as its inspiration, watching one episode of the show and dissecting it in every podcast episode. The hosts also aren't afraid to get into deeper themes like queerness, gender, the patriarchy, and more.
As well as the episodes, the hosts have even created their very own fan songs about the show, too. These are all on Spotify, so you can go listen to them if that interests you.
Lovett or Leave It Podcast
Photo courtesy of Apple Podcasts
This show is hosted by Jon Lovett, an openly gay MC who takes you through the weekly news cycle and makes it less stressful and even funny to listen to. He's joined by a rotating cast of guests each week, all who contribute to the antics going on.
These are just a few of the best LGBTQ podcasts out there right now. Take a listen to learn and laugh with the hosts, and maybe find your new favorite show.
As Thailand continues to relax its Covid-era entry requirements and affordable luxury remains as prevalent as ever, Southeast Asia’s LGBT-friendliest nation couldn’t be more appealing for a romantic wellness getaway in 2022. The Land of Smiles, whose economy depends heavily on tourism, consistently devised creative pandemic solutions that have protected its population throughout the global crisis while still allowing travelers safe entry to the natural bounty and rich culture that has long made it a bucket-list destination, better positioning the country to welcome back a steady influx of guests anxious to escape the most emotionally draining two years of their lives. Whether your ideal Thai-tinerary is set on the Andaman Sea to the west, the Gulf of Thailand to the east, or in the central capital of Bangkok, here is where to stay to find romance or wellness on a restorative vacation this year.
COMO Private Villa
Photo courtesy of COMO Point Yamu
The dazzle of Phuket’s picturesque coastline and neighboring islands is undeniable, and a stay at one of COMO Point Yamu’s private hillside villas overlooking Phang Nga Bay offers exclusive respite between days spent at each. From indulgent baths for two in your spa bathroom’s soaking tub to champagne sips at sunset in your private infinity pool overlooking the bay, you could easily sequester yourselves in serene seclusion at the property but do at least step out to explore a couples treatment at COMO Shambala spa. For the ultimate romance on the water, splurge on a private yacht charter from Blue Voyage Thailand to explore some of the region’s best beaches and islands while your personal crew prepares drinks and bites throughout the journey. If you have an important question to ask your special someone on this vacation, the stunning sunsets at sea provide an ideal backdrop!
Partially under development on the island’s interior, the sprawling Tri Vananda wellness community primarily offers luxurious private homes on its 230+ acres of mature nature (only 15% will be developed and no vehicles are allowed—it’s strictly golf carts here), but it’s already offering wellness retreats that allow you to take advantage of its integrative wellness programs, wetland nature reserve, all-organic farm, and world-class restaurant, Jamba, which serves artful plates of zero-waste recipes from Iron Chef Thailand winner Rick Dingen. Here, you’ll find a lush paradise within Phuket rarely discovered by the flocks of tourists who spend their days entirely on the sands and sea around the island’s famed coastline, and you may find new sides of yourselves, too.
Soneva Kiri private villa
Photo courtesy of Soneva Kiri
Just off Thailand’s eastern coast in the Gulf of Thailand, the tiny island of Koh Kood is home to dozens of accommodations, but the unrivaled luxury of Soneva Kiri brings superior romance that won’t be topped elsewhere. Book the property’s charter jet to arrive at the tiny outdoor airport on Koh Mai Si before a quick boat ride to the resort’s welcome pier for maximum exclusivity. From here, check in to a personal beachfront villa that not only contains your own stretch of sand on a quiet bay, but comes equipped with private outdoor living space that includes covered dining and kitchenette; a full-service outdoor spa bathroom including two outdoor showers, a whirlpool tub, and massage chaise; and sprawling decks with soft and hard seating along a swimming pool larger than many homes (consider booking a floating meal here for a truly special experience). While you’ll never feel crowded by the property’s other guests, you can escape them entirely with a meal in Soneva Kiri’s signature treepod. Hoisted to the canopy in an oversize bamboo nest enveloping your table, your meal here is delivered by acrobatic servers on a zipline as you gaze out from the treetops across the water, equally inspiring by day or night.
Relax and rejuvenate at RAKxa
Photo courtesy of RAKxa Wellness and Medical Retreat
Bangkok may be better known for bustling activity and raucous nightlife than for wellness and tranquility, but Bang Krachao, just 30 minutes from the city center is an artificial river island oasis known locally as the “green lung of Bangkok,” and here you’ll find a wellness facility unlike any other. The brand new RAKxa Wellness & Medical Retreat experience is an ultra-personal journey that begins with comprehensive health assessments including medical consultations, wellness consultations, and a fitness assessment. From here, an individualized program ranging from interdisciplinary spa treatments to medical wellness regimens like cryotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy is scheduled around your mindful meals and relaxation among the gardens, by the pool, or in your villa retreat.
Villas are designed for total tranquility by day with open spaces, neutral tones, and private gardens complete with grounding trails, and the villa’s smart system monitors not just temperature, but humidity, carbon dioxide level, and air quality for an ideal interior. The discrete kitchenette is stocked with a daily regimen of teas and juice boosters to regulate body and mind throughout the day, and blackout curtains surround the plush bedroom for uninterrupted sleep (even the smart system’s screen comes with its own blackout hood for bedtime). Programs here can include as little as one night, but 5- and 7-night itineraries are more effective whether you have targeted goals or just want to completely reset and recharge together.
You’ll need to head back into the city in order to depart and, if Bangkok’s popular dinner cruises aren’t your style, opt for a swanky dinner aboard Sirimahannop, the permanently docked three-masted ship serving elegant meals with the charm of yesteryear and the culinary prowess of today. The chic experience is a perfect re-entry to the busy city that still offers enough privacy for a romantic farewell dinner in Thailand.