Winter Pride weekend at Killington celebrated
By Josh O’Gorman
staff writer | February 04,2013
KILLINGTON — The turnout was modest but the vibe was positive during a gay-pride-themed event this past weekend.
About 100 people who define themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer gathered at Killington Resort for Winter Pride. The three-day event was organized by GNAR, the Gay Network Alliance of Riders, and offered an array of activities for both snow-sport enthusiasts and those who wished to stay warm.
“There are a lot of things like this that happen on the West Coast,” said GNAR founder and event coordinator Megan Skiles, referring to events such as Gay Ski Week at Mammoth Lakes, Calif. “I wanted to make it less of a gay ski weekend and more of a pride event.”
Members of the GLBTQ community, and their straight friends whom the community refers to as allies, kicked off the weekend with dinner at the Santa Fe Steakhouse and continued into the late-night hours at the Wobbly Barn.
“We had the entire loft reserved but everybody wanted to dance,” said Skiles, an indication of a weekend that was more about inclusion than gay-only events.
“We didn’t have anything exclusive to us and that was a good thing,” said Jeff Nichols of Manchester, N.H. Leaving his partner — who Nichols described as “more of a homebody” — behind for the weekend, he tried snowboarding for the first time. “This weekend was great, because sometimes you can go places that aren’t so friendly, but everybody here is so friendly.”
“We had a huge group come up from New York City,” said Skiles. “Gay tourism is drawn to progressive places like Vermont. I’m originally from Utah, and I find Vermont is so evolved.”
Married couple Amber Billey and Lydia Willoughby took a break from producing their Winooski-based burlesque show “Peep Show” to go snow tubing.
“I probably wouldn’t have come down here if it hadn’t been a GLBTQ event,” Willoughby said.
Winter Pride has something in common with its West Coast counterparts. It was an opportunity to raise money for a nonprofit group, in this case the Burlington-based RU12? Community Center — a group that “advocates with and for (LGBTQ) Vermonters.”
“We’ve heard people say they feel so isolated down here, so they were happy to have other people here who are like them,” said RU12?’s Executive Director Kim Fountain.
It’s that sort of opportunity, to meet someone else who feels like they do, that motivated Skiles and left her optimistic that Winter Pride will return next year.
“You take a certain population and they’re trying to date and the numbers start to dwindle,” she said. “We’re going to do this next year and we hope it’s going to be bigger.”