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Every winter for the past 44 years, visitors have traveled to the Roaring Fork Valley for a weekend full of skiing, soaking, dancing, costume contests, and drag queen entertainment. Aspen Gay Ski Week (AGSW), the world’s only nonprofit gay ski week, is unlike any event you’ll find in the Rocky Mountains.
While past gatherings have focused on the fabulous parties on and off the slopes, the 2021 event will look drastically different. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Pitkin County entering Level Red restrictions, AGSW will host no in-person events this year. Instead, attendees can tune in to a wide offering of virtual events while continuing to support the reason behind the annual celebration—giving back to the community.
Aspen Gay Ski Week (AGSW) is the signature fundraising event for AspenOUT, a local nonprofit that promotes tolerance and diversity through original programming and by providing grant funding to local and national LGBTQ causes. This year, organizers hope that they can bring the same energy and entertainment that attendees expect from AGSW, while staying safe.
“Our goal is to keep AspenOUT alive and to make enough money to continue our grant and scholarship giving in 2022,” says Kevin McManamon, executive director of AspenOUT. AspenOut makes money from lift tickets and hotel bookings made through the AGSW website, as well as through partnerships with local restaurants throughout the week-long event. “All of this adds up over the course of the week,” McManamon says. AspenOUT plans to give away $100,000 in 2022 to LGBTQ charities, scholarships, and grants. Since 2014, AspenOUT has given out close to $400,000 to help the LGBTQ community.
AGSW 2021 kicks off on January 17 with a livestreamed piano bar event hosted by comedian Jon Richardson in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Other virtual events throughout the week include the Art on the Virtual Slopes, which features works from artists all over the world, Drag Queen Bingo with Mariam T., a silent auction, and the Virtual Downhill Rainbow Reveal, during which the giant rainbow flag is unveiled by skiers as they glide down Aspen Mountain.
Mariam T. hails from sunny San Diego and will host this year’s virtual bingo with her San Diego drag sister, Naomi Daniels. “I’m hoping that this year we can all come together, and still keep the spirit of what Aspen Gay Ski Week is alive,” Mariam says. “We all had such a blast last year and if we can reconnect and still have fun and raise money this year, that will be amazing. I think it will also make us look forward to reuniting in 2022 even more.”
If you go: Aspen Gay Ski Week is January 17–24. Find all the virtual events for Aspen Gay Ski Week here.