17th Annual Telluride Gay Ski Week, 2/23 - 3/2

Show off your colors – 50 Shades of Gay? – and join in on the fun this winter at the 2019 Telluride Gay Ski Week. For more information and to purchase tickets or book special offers go to telluridegayski.com.

At the Jeep® brand space, Heritage Plaza, Mountain Village, enter to win branded snow gear and for a chance to win $45,000 towards any eligible vehicle from the Chrysler, Dodge, FIAT, Jeep or Ram Truck brands through the annual FCA US National Sweepstakes. While there, play a game of cornhole, foosball or jenga and explore the award winning 2019 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon – Motor Trend’s 2019 SUV of the Year® and FOUR WHEELER 2019 SUV of the Year, as well as the Grand Cherokee Limited and Cherokee Trailhawk.

Please scroll down for scenes of the scene from last year’s event and links to videos showcasing the talents of some of the talent on deck for this year.


The dictionary assigns two definitions to the word:

1. (Of a person) homosexual (used especially of a man).
“the city’s gay and lesbian people”

relating to or used by homosexuals.
“a gay bar”

2. Lighthearted and carefree.
“Nan had a gay disposition and a very pretty face”
Synonyms: cheerful, cheery, merry, jolly, lighthearted, mirthful, jovial, glad, happy, bright, in good spirits, in high spirits, joyful, elated, exuberant, animated, lively, sprightly, vivacious, buoyant, bouncy, bubbly, perky, effervescent, playful, frolicsome.

Both notions apply when keeping company with “Telluride,” “Ski” and “Week.”

Founded in 2002 and under the leadership of Rosie Cusack since 2016, Telluride Gay Ski Week, a winter highlight, is a cheerful, cherry, merry, jolly, lighthearted, high-spirited, (etcetera) event that runs from Saturday, February 23 – Saturday, March 2, culminating in the Telluride AIDS Benefit Gala Fashion Show.

Rosie Cusack, Telluride Gay Ski Week director, with 2015 Guest of Honor Olympian Gus Kenworthy & his partner, Matthew Wilkas at Pool Party.

So if you are feeling light and gay, visitors (and locals) are offered endless opportunities to engage in a wide range of activities, including daily skiing and snowboarding meet-and-greets, après ski, and nightly dance parties at the Liberty Bar and Lounge.

Shake a shoe at the Opening Night Cocktail Party; sing your heart out at Karaoke; pamper yourself at the pool and spa day; get your glam on at the drag shows (and drag bingo; explore the quaint streets of Telluride and the plazas of Mountain Village; and sample the great food both towns have to offer.

But that is now.

This 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.

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.

“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 Streisand 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.

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

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, #17, by another eye-popping second act.

Telluride & Telluride Gay Ski Week today:

The setting for the 2019 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

“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…,” wrote 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.

And in January 2019 USA Today named Telluride #1 among the Top 11 ski resorts in North America.

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. 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.”

Telluride Gay Ski Week, a picture is worth a thousand words (plus a few videos):

Rocking out on the mountain



Splish splash in the pool



What a drag on stage (images thanks to Abie Livesay)



The seen at the scene known as the White Party (images thanks to Nick Ferguson)






The DJ:

 Suzy Wong:

Janessa Highland:

Dessie Live (or Love) Blake:

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