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EUROPEAN GAY SKI WEEK 2019 - Katie Bamber, Senior News Reporter
Tuesday February 19, 2019 - Email this article to a friend

The world's roaming LBGT winter sports festival calls for greater awareness of the homophobia faced by travellers.



Surveys report that 1/3 LGBTQ holiday-makers feel they are treated differently - negatively - due to their sexuality when on holiday.

45% of transgender travellers have reported fearing physical or verbal abuse/harassment while travelling.

99% of lesbians state LGBTQ discrimination as their greatest concern when travelling overseas.

The European Gay Ski Week seeks to make known the homophobia LBGT travellers come into contact with while travelling.

It also serves to create the queer-specific mountain holiday important for the community.

European Gay Ski Week prides itself on delivering unique experiences, with fantastic skiing and snowboarding, and top-notch entertainment.

It changes location each year, this year the 13th edition will take place in Les Arcs, France.

With the huge Paradiski area as its backdrop, events will include high-calibre cabaret acts, parties hosted by international clubs and DJs, fine dining, pool parties and open-air on-mountain après-ski with live shows.

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Action and winter sports have, as have many 'traditional' sports, had to take note of the homphobia in its ranks.

"Snowboarders have long been referred to as 'gays on trays'," the former director of world-famous London gay nightclub Heaven and head of Pure Organisation, which operates European Gay Ski Week, Kevin Millins, says.

"...World-class snowboarder Terje Hakkonsen caused outrage on Twitter by quipping "Isn't [sic] all skiers gay?" in response to Gus Kenworthy's coming out announcement in 2015."

Prominent out gay winter sports athletes like America's freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, figure skater Adam Rippon and Australian Olympic snowboarder Belle Brockhoff give the impression of a more open sports community.

And last week news was the news that England cricket captain Joe Root responded to a gay slur mid-match:

"Don't use it as an insult; there's nothing wrong with being gay."

But homophobic slurs are commonplace in action sports culture.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee in a 2017 report called for a "zero-tolerance approach at all levels" of sport.

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"With the LGBT protections and rights that have developed over the past 13 years that we have been running this event, it has prompted many people to question the need for LGBT-specific leisure spaces, be that gay-only bars and clubs or LGBT-specific tourism," Millins says.

"But for LGBT holiday-makers, knowing the laws of the land can be critical to actual or perceived safety," Millins continues.

"... making holidays another source of worry rather than a relaxing, rejuvenating leisure experience.

"For many, skiing and snowboarding epitomises feelings of freedom and self-expression.

"For the LGBT community, these are sentiments not taken for granted and there is huge demand for spaces that are guaranteed to be welcoming, inclusive and where LGBT people can relax, be themselves and just have fun.

And here is where the European Gay Ski Week steps in.

"European Gay Ski Week welcomes more than 1,000 LGBT people each year, from 49 different countries."

"[It provides] the rare opportunity to not only enjoy queer-specific spaces from our on-mountain gay ski guiding groups to the après parties and nightclubs.

"{And offers] an LGBT-inclusive way to get outdoors, be active and enjoy winter sports in beautiful mountain settings."

European Gay Ski Week offers "an unrivalled travel experience, as it is the only LGBT winter sports festival to be hosted in a different mountain location each year."

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About European Gay Ski Week

Pricing for a package including accommodation, lift pass and event pass start from €399

From 23rd - 30th March, 2019 European Gay Ski Week will be hosted in Les Arcs.

Les Arcs is part of the snow-sure Paradiski area that boasts 425km of pistes within a boundary of 14,390 hectares for every level of skier.

Location: The Villages of Arc 1950 & 2000, Les Arcs, France
European Gay Ski Week is run by Pure Organisation and is the world's only roaming LGBT winter sports festival aimed at a global audience.

Since its launch in 2008, EGSW has been held in Tignes, Alpe d'Huez, Avoriaz, Les Menuires and now Les Arcs.

Sponsors have included Budweiser, Canadian underwear brand, Pump and Rational FX, a leading foreign exchange provider.

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Aside from the partying and skiing, other activities on offer are:
  • Fat biking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Heliskiing
  • Heli tours
  • Cross country
  • Husky dog rides
  • Paragliding
  • Skidooing
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