Aspen Gay Ski Week to welcome families next month |

Aspen Gay Ski Week to welcome families next month

Pride flags line the stage at the bottom of Aspen Mountain for Logo's Downhill Coustume Comptition and Party.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

The legalization of gay marriage more than four years ago has led to a rise in more gay families in the United States, according to the owner of a gay-focused travel company.

“More and more people in the community are having kids,” said Gregg Kaminsky, one of the founding partners of R Family Vacations. “We wanted an option for them to keep coming to Aspen (for Gay Ski Week).”

So as part of next month’s 43rd annual Aspen Gay Ski Week, organizers have created a long weekend in Snowmass Village at the end of the week’s festivities specifically geared toward gay couples with children.

“Generally, they don’t grow up with other LGBTQ families,” Kaminsky said. “Now they can all come to Snowmass and see families that look like them.”

The event — which will take place Jan. 17 to 19 — is a partnership between Kaminsky’s company, Family Equality, an advocacy group for gay families, and AspenOUT, the nonprofit that puts on Gay Ski Week.

Kevin McManamon, director of AspenOUT, adopted two children more than two decades ago, and said that back then he was pretty much on his own.

“When I adopted my kids 23 and 21 years ago, there was no support group,” he said.

A handful of gay families with children young enough not to be in school yet have attended Gay Ski Week — scheduled for Jan. 12 to 19 — but there’s never been a concerted effort to plan an event for them, McManamon said. He said he’s been trying to plan a family-centric event for the past three or four years, but the circumstances weren’t right.

Now the promotional backing provided by the partnership with R Family Vacations and Family Equality, coupled with the fact that next year’s ski week ends on the Martin Luther King three-day weekend, it was clear the 2020 Aspen Gay Ski Week was the time to try it, McManamon said.

“We felt it was important to be on the forefront of LGBTQ family events,” he said.

In addition, McManamon would like to make Aspen a destination for gay travelers and families alike.

“There’s no such thing as an LBGTQ mountain destination resort,” he said. “There’s lots of (gay) beach destinations.”

Kaminsky said 25 families have signed up to participate in the events next month, which will include Friday Ullr Night at Elk Camp, a party for parents only Saturday and a kids swimming party at the Aspen Recreation Center on Sunday.

Also, organizers are looking to create an LGBTQ event in Snowmass Village in the summer, which may happen in the summer of 2021, Kaminsky said.

“We have started the conversation and they are very, very receptive,” he said. “They couldn’t have been more welcome to us.”

Sara Stookey Sanchez, public relations manager at Snowmass Tourism, said next month’s event fits perfectly with Snowmass Village.

“Snowmass is a natural fit because we have families here of all kinds,” she said. “We’re looking forward to welcoming them.”