Following in the footsteps of towns such as Telluride and Aspen, Durango will celebrate its first gay ski weekend next week. Purgatory Resort partnered with the Four Corners Alliance for Diversity to bring Winter Pride to the slopes Jan. 26-29.
The event will include ski meet-ups, tubing, a dance party, performances by The Cannondolls and Big Mama Donna, and a drag show featuring “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season Four contestant Latrice Royale.
Purgatory’s Events Manager Matthew Krichman is optimistic for a large turnout.
“Purgatory is always looking for fun new ways to bring people together and make positive memories, and this seems like a great way to do that,” he said. “We are hopeful that this will be a well-attended event and that it will continue for years to come.”
The Four Corners Alliance for Diversity, which has been around for 16 years, hosts several LGBT-friendly events throughout the year, said Kristi Dean, board chairwoman for the alliance.
“I’ve been in Durango for two years, and I am amazed at what this group has done,” she said. “We want people to realize that pride events are not just for the LGBTQ community. These events are also for our allies as a way to support us and show us that it’s OK for us to be out and open in Durango.”
One of Winter Pride’s main events will be the drag show on Jan. 28, hosted by Ammon Swofford. Swofford, better known by his drag persona Alice Glamoure, is a Fort Lewis College alumnus who began his career as a performer in 2009 after auditioning for a local burlesque troupe in drag.
“I originally auditioned for Salt Fire Circus because I felt like they needed a drag queen, and that’s how Alice was born,” he said. “It was my drag outlet. I think Durango is very accepting (of the gay community). There are still some people who have issues with gay culture, different lifestyles and alternative behavior, but that’s on them. It is unfortunate, but the majority that I’ve met have been accepting.”
Dean shares similar views with Swofford, touting Durango as an open-minded and accepting community.
“I think it is a mountain town thing, honestly,” she said. “The mountain towns are extremely accepting of the LGBTQ community. Durango’s Pride Festival had hundreds attend last year.”
Despite the positive reception, it is still crucial for cities to host pride events, Dean said.
“Gay pride is important because there are still groups of people who have been raised to be intolerant,” she said. “Pride offers an opportunity for people to see that it is OK to be gay. Any minority needs the majority to be on their side, or their rights can be taken away.”
Winter Pride will be a bit different than the other gay ski festivities in Colorado, Krichman said. Every event will be located at Purgatory, and attendees will be able to “find their friends easily and will not need a map.” Events such as Aspen Gay Ski Week are held at the resort and throughout parts of the town.
To add to the convenience, Purgatory is offering 20 percent off rooms for those who stay two or more nights, plus discounts on lift tickets (for more information, visit http://bit.ly/2jDMN1f).
“We are offering a lodging discount to encourage people to make this a weekend getaway,” Krichman said. “We want to get a good mix of locals and nonlocals at this event, and hope that we get a lot of people participating whether they are gay or straight because we are all here to celebrate diversity and inclusivity.”