Arts & entertainment
2 min

Ottawa’s big gay ski trip

Hit the slopes with a queer crew

Mont Ste Marie, pictured here in 2014, provides the snow and slopes for Snow Pride. 

Credit: Flickr/Shane Seguin

A homosexual phalanx is about to descend on a village of roughly 600 people in western Quebec. But it’s not as sinister as it sounds — they’re not going to wreak some sort of pink havoc.

Revelers gathered at The Lookout on Jan 14, 2016, to celebrate the launch of Snow Pride. (Submitted)

For the second year in a row, Jamie Haight is hauling a bunch of gays from Ottawa to Lac Ste Marie in order to ski on the nearby Mont Ste Marie. “I always wanted to have a gay day up there,” he says. “I’ve been going to that area for years and years — my best friend has a cottage up there — and I love it and it’s always been gay friendly.”

So in March 2015, he put together an event called, simply, Gay Ski. According to Haight, he threw it together last minute and mostly without help (with the exception of one friend, and  Haight’s indulgent partner). Nonetheless, it brought out about 70 skiers, with 50 staying on for the party later that night.

“I just wanted people to get up there. It’s non-profit; I’m not making any money — never wanted to make any money. I just wanted people to go to the area because it’s beautiful and it brings money to the area,” he says. “Because — unfortunately — like many west Quebec towns, there’s not a lot of reason to go there.”

This year he’s doing it again, but with the help of six friends, and with a new name that reflects the sentiment — particularly virulent this winter — that Pride-like celebrations don’t have to happen only once a year: Snow Pride. No registration is required — attendees just book their accommodations as soon as they can (information is available on Snow Pride’s Facebook page) and make the hour-long trek from Ottawa to Lac Ste Marie.

The weekend begins on Friday with a meet and greet, and the next morning everyone — those who doesn’t feel like just lounging in the lodge, anyway — takes to the hills. Boa-clad guides will be at the base of the mountain to help people find whatever run corresponds to their skill level. There are also many snowshoe trails on the mountain.

In the early afternoon, particularly intrepid souls will get on their best frocks and compete for prizes in The Drag Race. “It’s a basic slalom course, I think. It’ll be timed, but it’s also best costume,” he says. “If people don’t have their own, we’ll have stuff for them to put on — wigs, boas, hats, maybe a dress or two that will go over [their regular gear].”

“One straight friend — him and his wife are already planning his outfit.”

Following a little apr├Ęs-ski with a live band and yet more prizes, there’ll be a final big bash for the weekend: Thermal. This is a dance party with DJ JC Simon spinning and a performance by drag queen Eva Darling. As the name suggests, attendees are encouraged to, as Haight says, “come out in their best thermal underwear.”