Telluride Gay Ski Week: Are You Coming Out?

Telluride Gay Ski Week: Are You Coming Out?

Show off your colors – 50 Shades of Gay? – and join in on the fun this winter at the 2017 Telluride Gay Ski Week. To access a schedule of up-to-the minute, book lodging, and receive updates, go here. Headquarters are Telluride Art’s HQ Office and Gallery, directly across the street from the Telluride Library, 135 West Pacific. For tickets, go here. For more information, contact Rosie Cusack, director, Telluride Gay Ski Week, at 970-729-0567. 

Telluride Gay Ski Week 2017 is proof positive that locals have locals’ backs. Sponsors include 221 South Oak, Liberty Bar, Peaks Resort & Spa, the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, the Sheridan Opera House and its SHOW Bar, and Telluride Arts, are all yuge supporters of Telluride Gay Ski Week. This year’s major sponsors are Maserati, Tito’s Handmake Vodka, and Telluride Luxury Rentals + Real Estate Inc., plus BootDoctors, Telluride Ski Resort, Suerte Tequila, and US Bank.




Rosie Cusack, Telluride Gay Ski Week director, last year with Guest of Honor , Olympian Gus Kenworthy & friend at Pool Party .

Rosie Cusack, Telluride Gay Ski Week director, last year with Guest of Honor Olympian Gus Kenworthy & Matthew Wilkas at Pool Party .


Feeling light and gay?

“Out” is trending big time.

And gender?

That is a many fluid thing. On FB alone, there are at least 51 new sexual identity options.

Coming out?

Why not?

Baby, the movement has come a long way.

How far? Let’s skip hand in hand down memory lane all the way to Telluride’s front door, where the 15th Annual Telluride Gay Ski Week, Saturday, February 25 – Saturday, March 4 – brings a fun-filled week dancing, fashion, late-night parties, plus lots of meetings and greetings to our mountain and, of course, skiing, all hosted by the Telluride Ski Resort and organizer/director Rosie Cusack. 

Everyone who is anyone will be OUT and about.

But this is now.

That was then.


The Way It Was, a brief history of the LGBT movement in the U.S.:

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

For the LGBT community, it has not always been smooth sailing, errr, skiing. Historically, there have been lots of Volkswagen-sized moguls on the way to après.

Once upon a time, it was all about the “love that dare not speak its name.”

In 1895, on a grey rainy November day in London, one of history’s greatest playwrights and wits, Oscar Wilde (of the famous quote above), was arrested for “gross indecency with men” or sodomy, for which he was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison.

Fast forward to the 20th century – when things still took a long time to improve.

Prior to and throughout most of the 1900s, standard psychology viewed homosexuality in terms of pathological models as a mental illness.That classification began to be tested in research, which never ever produced strong empirical evidence that would define homosexuality as a disorder. Yet, in 1952, the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual listed homosexuality as a sociopathic personality disturbance. One year later, in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed an executive order that banned homosexuals from working for the federal government, saying they would be a security risk.

‘Defiant,” by artist Malcolm Liepke. Oping party at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

‘Defiant,” by artist Malcolm Liepke. Opening party at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

Then, on a momentous day in June– June 28, 1969 –  to be exact, police raided the Stonewall Inn in New York City, triggering protests and demonstrations. The gay civil rights movement in the United States had officially begun.

Since then, the world has become a much better place for the LGBTI community. Dignity and equality have become part of life’s regular hum.

Fast forward to June, 2013. The United States Supreme Court issued a critical decision declaring the part of the 1996 “Defense of Marriage Act” denying same-sex married couples federal marriage benefits unconstitutional, a landmark decision, which immediately opened the door to over 1000 marriage benefits that married same-sex couples could now enjoy in full equality with their heterosexual counterparts.

Elsewhere in the world, countries made even greater strides. That same year, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Uruguay, England, and Wales granted full legal recognition to same-sex marriages.

By 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5–4, in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have the fundamental right to marry and that states cannot say that marriage is reserved for heterosexual couples.

“Secret Identity,” Malcolm Liepke

“Secret Identity,” Malcolm Liepke

“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

Also in 2015, even The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) ended its ban on gay adult leaders.

Unlike in Wilde’s time, today openly gay writers, actors, and musicians, and artists of all stripes and persuasions, are prominently featured in popular art and entertainment venues and no one, well nearly no one, raises an eyebrow.

More and more, gay celebrities and celebrity hopefuls are proudly coming out of the closet much earlier in, or even at the very start of, their careers, proudly waving their Judy Garland flags on high.

And over the past few years in particular, an unprecedented number of athletes have also shared their sexual orientation publicly. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, there were a record 11 openly gay male Olympians and a grand total of 41 publicly out gay, lesbian, and bisexual jocks. The list of gay Olympians also includes freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, who announced his homosexuality to the world in 2014 via a glossy ESPN magazine cover.

"Boy in a Hood,” Liepke, Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

“Boy in a Hood,” Liepke, Telluride Gallery of Fine Art

Gus is a homie, Made in Telluride. And he was a celebrity guest at the revitalized Telluride Gay Ski Week last year, the first year locals reclaimed the week from the carpetbaggers, who had run the show – almost into the ground – for 14 years.

The remix in 2016 was action-packed and featured an impressive list of special guests, including Kenworthy as guest of honor, plus musician Shawn Colvin, comedian Sandra Bernhard, and the infamous DJ Ruckus, among others.

It was a WOW of an opening act.

No doubt being followed this year by an eye-popping second act.


Telluride & Telluride Gay Ski Week today:

The setting for the 2017 mega production: natch, our home, Shangri-La 2.0.

The Telluride Ski Resort offers a genuine mountain experience with quality terrain for all levels. With 148 trails, 2,000+ skiable acres and a 4,425-foot vertical drop, our host town truly has it all. Add to that, breathtaking scenery and a charismatic, historic mining town populated by charming locals, known to welcome everyone with open arms.

Biking on the Valley Floor, by Melissa Plantz

Biking on the Valley Floor, by Melissa Plantz

“When it’s time to pick a ski vacation destination, there are tons of choices, and the industry’s big names immediately leap to mind: Vail, Jackson Hole, Park City, Aspen, Whistler, and so on. They all have great facilities, but Colorado’s Telluride often gets overlooked in this discussion. That’s a huge mistake: not only is it worthy of consideration, I could make a compelling argument that it is the single best ski vacation choice in the country. But no matter how you slice it, it’s near the top, with lots of strengths and very few weaknesses. In fact, in its 2016-2017 reader’s poll, industry leading publication Ski Magazine ranked it North America’s Best for Overall Satisfaction, and what do we want from our vacations if not the most Satisfaction? It also ranked Number One for both Scenery and Character.

While some ski resorts excel at one or two things, like cuisine, lodging, diversity, challenge, charm or convenience, Telluride excels across the board and is a near perfect gem…,” wrote Larry Olmsted in his feature in Forbes entitled “World’s Best Ski Resorts: Telluride Wows With Charm, Scenery and Great Skiing.”

“Telluride might be known for its famous landowners—Oprah Winfrey and Ralph Lauren among them—but this majestic ski town tucked away in a box canyon in southwestern Colorado still maintains its Old West charm. Once a mining town, and where Butch Cassidy started his bank-robbing career back in the 1890s, modern-day Telluride remains the unfussy, more casual ski-town sibling of places like Aspen or Vail. Don’t let the lack of fur coats and big-name chefs fool you—Telluride has world-class dining and lodging to match the outstanding ski terrain at Telluride Ski Resort…,” said Vogue.

Photo, courtesy Telski, Aurelie Slegers

Photo, courtesy Telski, Aurelie Slegers

“As far as North American ski towns go, Aspen, Colorado, is tough to beat. It has not one but four mountains and a historic yet glitzed-out downtown full of shopping, restaurants, luxury hotels, world-class art, music, and intellectual gatherings. Two hundred miles to the southwest lies a not unknown but more discreet, more remote, more hemmed-in ski hamlet perched some 900 feet higher in the sky. Telluride and Aspen are both mining towns turned ski resorts, but thanks to Telluride’s spectacular setting, wholesome attitude, and homegrown entrepreneurs, it may have a few things to teach its bigger, more famous Coloradan sister…,” raved Architectural Digest.

“Just because Telluride is about understated glamour, however, doesn’t mean it lacks a strong culinary scene, high-end shops, or luxury accommodations. This small town needs to cater to the most discerning of tastes and it does not disappoint on that front. You’ll find impressive local microbrews, wine lists with some of the world’s best bottles, multi-course tasting menus served at the top of the mountain…, “ wrote W Magazine.

There appears to be a proverbial chorus of angels singing in harmony about Telluride, so no doubt Telluride Gay Ski Week is as special as it is because of location, location, location.

But also because of TGSW’s carefully orchestrated schedule of entertainment, which ups the fun: opening-day party; daily après ski; late-night lounge happenings, with events extending well into the morning hours, including the signature White Party – which literally brought the house down last year.

And again, the actual ripping and shredding.

“We are really excited about this year,” said Cusack. “Once again, we are going to have an amazing week here in this beautiful community. It is incredibly important to me that we support Telluride Gay Ski Week and in so doing, welcome diversity here at home – and in the entire country.”

Gay Ski Week also coincides with the Telluride Aids Benefit fashion show gala on March 4, “dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS by raising awareness and generating financial support for prevention programs and client care.”

“Featuring local models, TAB’s show is not your ordinary strut down the runway,” added Cusack. “The hour-plus performance followed by a live auction is truly inspiring. It should be the perfect addition to our week of celebration.”

TAN Gala Fashion Show

TAN Gala Fashion Show


Below is the full schedule of events for TGSW:


Hospitality Tent, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Heritage Plaza, Mountain Village.

8 a.m. Breakfast & Meet Up, Altezza, Peaks Resort & Spa, Mountain Village

10 a.m. Ski Meet Up , Base of Chair 4, Mountain Village

Daily après ski, 3 – 5:30 p.m. – excluding Wednesday – at 221 South Oak

Late Night Lounge, 9 p.m. – 2 a.m., Liberty Bar, 121 S. Fir, Telluride


Saturday, February 25, Opening Night Welcome & Art Show:  

The evening begins at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, 130 E. Colorado.

The first of our opening night events for Telluride Gay Ski Week attendees takes place and at the Telluride Gallery where the work of Malcolm Liepke is on display. Start the week off right by taking in this and a meet + greet with all attendees.

“Turned Away,” a triptych by Malcolm Liepke, featured at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

“Turned Away,” a triptych by Malcolm Liepke, featured at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

Here is a synopsis of Liepke’s life and work: 

Malcolm Liepke was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the unabridged honesty that comes with Midwestern roots shows up in his work. Liepke is an unapologetic realist, who paints with a smoking brush. His images, these freshly minted portraits of women, have evolved into a patented cocktail of sensuality and draftsmanly stylishness: definitely PG-13, as much for what comes through the surface as what’s on the surface. 

Horizontal or vertical, supine or prone, each of the ladies – and now gentlemen –  in Liepke’s harem somehow manages to engage us with a look that would melt steel. The words “luscious”  and “juicy” come to mind.

To depict loaded emotions, Liepke works with a loaded brush, making bold, lush calligraphic strokes that set off faces, figures and fabric, particularly in the new work, against a painterly backgrounds.

Liepke remains at one cool remove from his subject, making no judgments, just observing and recording, yet he manages to bring so much excitement to his scrutiny of light and shade on the exposed flesh and features of his women – and that adorable baby – the creaminess of the paint seduces the viewer into believing not much else in the room is worth looking at. We become rapt, hopeless voyeurs in the thrall of the artist’s muses. 

Liepke’s true gift, his real magic, however, is a talent for revealing something more, something evanescent: the inner life of his subjects. The artist’s primary goal is to capture emotions that vanish before they can be named or tamed. No wonder Liepke’s bravura paintings can be found in the permanent collections of the National Academy of Design, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Smithsonian, as well as in the private collections of celebrities from Barbra Streisand to Donna Karan.

Registration required because space is limited. Reserve your spot now.

Opening Night Dance Party at Liberty Bar & Lounge, 121 S. Fir

Every evening Gay Ski Week features a lounge, a dance party, or both. Liberty Bar & Lounge, the newest hot spot in town, will be hosting this year.

Creative libations will also be plentiful thanks to our generous sponsor, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, pouring signature cocktails all night long. Special guest DJ kicks off the fun-filled week at this epic dance party.

Grab your dancing shoes and reserve your ticket now, this event rocks and is sure to sell out quickly.

Sunday, February 26, Oscar Viewing Party 


An evening of glamour, red carpet looks, and golden men. The Oscar Viewing Party kicks off at 5:30 p.m. at the historic Sheridan Opera House.

Space is limited so reserve your ticket now to see who’s wearing what and collectively miss Joan Rivers for not being able to tell us all about it.

Drink specials all night brought to us by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Moet.

Monday, February 27, Late Night Karaoke Lounge, 9  p.m. – 2 a.m.

Lynda & Doug Tueller at Karaoke Party, 2016, TGSW.

Lynda & Doug Tueller at Karaoke Party, 2016, TGSW.

The Liberty Bar & Lounge features one of Gay Ski Week’s favorite pastimes, karaoke. Get your voice adjusted to the altitude and come ready to belt out your favorite tunes. Need a little liquid courage to storm that stage? Tito’s Handmade Vodka’s got your back with signature cocktails flowing all night long. Reserve your ticket now or pay at the door.

Tuesday, February 28, Mardi Gras Après Ski Party


It’s Mardi Gras!

What would you do for those beads?

Slap on your green, yellow, and purple and head to our special Fat Tuesday-themed Après Ski get-together. Dancing and of course Tito’s Handmade Vodka will be pouring Mardi Gras-themed cocktail.

See how many beads you can collect, reserve your ticket now.

Wednesday, March 1, Spa Day, Deep End Pool Party & Comedy

Pool and deck, Peaks Resort & Spa.

Pool and deck, Peaks Resort & Spa.

Mid-week lull…no chance! Don’t miss the Deep End Ski-In Pool Party hosted by The Peaks Resort & Spa.

This incredible setting offers an indoor/outdoor pool, hot tubs, sauna and waterslide all for your enjoyment. The best part though – the Peaks has rolled back the start time to noon to give us even more time to get our party on. Starting at noon, the Deep End Bar & Grill opens with a special poolside menu.

Ski-in, grab a drink, a bite and relax by the pool for a bit before you hit the hill again or stick around for the main event and dance.

Food specials include a choice of Hot sausage, Big Weiner or Spicy Balls on a Steamy Bun, with tossed salad side, $12, plus Tito’s Handmade Vodka-inspired drinks.

Space is limited at this hot mid-week event. Reserve your tickets now. Grill Opens at 3 p.m.

Standup comedy  with Erin Foley

Comedian Erin Foley

Comedian Erin Foley

$20 admission

With an historic brick wall background and stand-up mic, Liberty Bar & Lounge becomes a comedy club featuring Erin Foley, a comedic actress and writer.

As a writer, Foley wrote on the NBC sitcom “One Big Happy” and was a consulting producer on “Little Funny,” which debuts in 2017. Her successful comedic podcast, “Sports without Balls” was recently added to the All Things Comedy network and received critical acclaim.

Front and center VIP seating available now for $40; general admission is $20 at the door.

Tito’s Bloody Mary Bar, Saturday, March 4:

Thursday, March 2, White Party

Music will be loud and the place will be crowded when DJ Dagger of Bimbo Jones spins at the Sheridan Opera House SHOW Bar. A party to remember.



And Telluride AIDS Benefit Sneak Peak Fashion Show, 8 – 10 p.m., Telluride Conference Center, Mountain Village.

Friday, March 3, Drag Show with Suzy Wong (aka Arnold Mint) at the Liberty Bar

Suzy Wong

Suzy Wong

Saturday, March 4, Telluride AIDS Benefit Gala Fashion Show & Late Night Lounge 

TAB fashion show takes place 8 – 10 p.m. at the Telluride Conference Center followed by TAB After-Party with DJ Kat V at the Sheridan Opera House


Postscript: Is clubbing with gays really more fun?

Brown Coat, Malcolm Liepke, Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

Brown Coat, Malcolm Liepke, Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

Check out this blog from

1. Gay men actually dance.
And they do it well! Going to a club with a horde of gay men will always be one of the best ways to spend a Friday night (at Necto, for all of you Ann Arborites). You’ll never catch a crowd of gay men standing around the dance floor watching all the fun or playing on their iPhones. They’re usually in the center of the room, stealing all of the attention from mediocre-looking heteros. And if they’re not on the dance floor, they’re likely doing something fabulous at the bar. Body shots, anyone?

2. There’s no pressure to be undeniably sensual.
They will never get boners while they grind up against you from behind, and they will never try to cop a feel of your boobs or other lady parts. Your skirt can be as long or short as you want it to be – tonight, you’re dressing for you, not for some douchey hetero guy who objectifies you. If you’re in the mood for tap dancing, go for it, but you can also shake your booty all you want. You do you!

3. You will look fucking amazing.
Most gay men wouldn’t have it any other way. They aren’t afraid to ask, “honey, don’t you have a more flattering skirt than that?” They will never let you leave the house in flats. Even though your feet will not be thanking them, you sure will. You’re the queen of fashion, thanks to your own personal stylists. Walk like the fierce diva you are, sister; don’t let the homos down…

4. They aren’t afraid to rebel against social constructs.
See #2 — dance however you want to, honey. These gems of men came out of the closet at a probably young-ish age, so clearly they have a knack for avoiding the status quo. Need someone to tighten your bra strap? Go ahead and ask. Need someone to bring you toilet paper from another stall? Yell into the hallway; they’ll probably prance into the women’s bathroom without a second thought, happy to help out a friend. It’s refreshing, really, how genuine these fellows are. They are irrevocably true to themselves and encourage you to do the same.

5. They will take care of you.
We’ve all been there. Vodka sometimes means a night next to the toilet. Break-ups sometimes mean a night next to a box of Kleenex. Similarly, a night out with gay men means a night with a support system. Someone to hold your hair, dry your tears, and most importantly, to tell you when your nose and mascara are running a race towards your chin. They will take away your phone. What would we do without them? Luckily, we never have to find out. These guys are lifelong friends.



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