On the occasion of yesterday’s historic Supreme Court case rulings, the awesome people at Powder Magazine contacted SKI BUMS president & founder Chris French to chat about how SKI BUMS began, get a reaction to the rulings, and discuss how he reacts when snowboarders say “skiing is gay!”
Check out the fun interview:
Ski clubs are scattered throughout the country as a way to bring shredders together in cities and towns and transport them to the mountains. And they’re a great excuse for people to get together and drink beer. Chris French, 39, is the founder of Ski Bums, the self-proclaimed largest LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) ski club in the world. Based in New York City, French has planned trips all over the world and had a damn good time doing it along the way. Via Skype, he chatted with POWDER.com about running a ski club, ripping pow in Japan, and yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling that entitled gay married couples to the same federal benefits as straight couples.
POWDER: Let’s start with the basics of your club.
Chris French: Ski Bums is the world’s largest club for LGBT skiers and snowboarders. We got started as a local club in New York City in 2004, but then we grew pretty rapidly to become a regional club. Then a national club. Today we have more than 1,000 members from 40 U.S. states and roughly 20 foreign countries.
When did you first go on trips?
Our first trips were in January 2005. And that first year, we only took local trips to East Coast places in the Catskills and Vermont. We got excited pretty quickly and things took off rapidly. We started the very next year going out West. We went to Zermatt, Switzerland. Last year we had 20 trips. And we’re going to Argentina later this summer.
So why a gay ski club? Skiing is a predominantly white sport, but there’s an African American ski club, Jewish ski clubs, and others. I find it interesting there’s clubs devoted to particular races, religions, and sexual preferences.
The question that I hear from some of my straight friends is this: “Well why do you only want to ski with other gay people? Why don’t you want to ski with us? Why don’t you want to be around us?” And that’s not the case at all. On the contrary, I don’t hear that question so much from LGBT people because…we have to do something to find each other. We either have to go to a bar, or go to a club. We can’t just like walk out onto the street and be like, “Hey everyone, if you’re gay, raise your hand right now.” (laughs) The ultimate purpose of Ski Bums is to connect with other LGBT people and make new friends.
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