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Gay Ski Week not all fun and games

Aspen Gay & Lesbian Ski Week may be known locally for its light-hearted side – perhaps best exhibited during the on-slope costume contest on the Little Nell each year.But organizers say Gay Ski Week is also about highlighting issues important to the gay and lesbian community. And this year, topics from gay adoption to hate crimes will be addressed by guests of honor and attendees.Judy Shepard is scheduled to present the first-ever Youth of Vision Scholarship on Tuesday night. Judy’s son, Matthew, was tied to a fence along a highway in Wyoming and beaten to death by two men because he was gay. He was 21 when he died. The case drew national attention to the issue of hate crimes against gay men and women.The Youth of Vision award, which will go to Boulder High School student Kurt Van Raden, was created to honor a college-bound individual who helped champion a cause within the gay community. Van Raden coordinated a Hate Free Week in Boulder last year. He is also credited with creating a diversity-friendly curriculum for his high school.”I think he’ll do us proud,” Christopher Malick, marketing director of The Matthew Shepard Foundation, said of Van Raden’s college hopes.Shepard will also use Gay Ski Week as a launching pad for her new book, “A Face in the Crowd.” Proceeds from sales of the photo book will help fund The Matthew Shepard Foundation, which strives to educate the public on hate crimes and civil rights issues affecting the homosexual community.Shepard will also introduce a documentary co-funded by the Foundation, “Out in the Cold,” profiling “throwaway” gay youth forced to live on the streets.Another guest of honor scheduled to present Tuesday is Esera Tavai Tuaolo, a former NFL lineman who recently came out on national television. Tuaolo will make presentations at area high schools this week, as well as sing selections from his new CD. He will also provide musical entertainment during Tuesday night’s Youth of Vision dinner.Tuaolo could also be on a midweek panel discussion on family rights and gay adoption. Tuaolo and his longtime partner recently adopted twins.”We’re just so happy that we have these two beautiful children and we can be positive role models for them,” he said during a Sunday afternoon press conference.


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