• Caitlin Kennedy

European Snow Pride

For someone several degrees short of straightness, sometimes Val d’Isere can feel a little desert-like in terms other queer folk. Not to steal Jack (our lookalike from last week)’s title, but at times “the only gay in the village’ comes to mind. With the obvious exception of La Folie Douce, which is so fabulously out and proud that their unicorn piñatas shit glitter, queer culture is sorely lacking in these parts. So it was with sheer delight that I discovered Tignes Pride last year, the first ever pride event to be held in a ski resort.

Coming up in just over a week, it’ll be the 5th Pride Day to be held in Tignes and is run in conjunction with European Snow Pride, the biggest gay ski week in Europe, who have been coming to Tignes since 2005. Tignes has for a while now been a town committed to equality and openness to the LGBT+ community. As well as hosting the gay ski week, in 2008, well before the legalisation of marriage for all, the City Council took the decision to celebrate Civil Unions for couples who wanted it. In 2013, they signed the charter against homophobia in sport and invited France’s first gay couple to marry, after Gay Marriage was legalised, to visit the town. It was when Vincent Austin and Bruno Boileau visited that the first seeds were sewn for a Pride Day to take place. The couple are very active in the LGBT+ community and Pride scene in Montpellier, where they tied the knot and so the link was formed with Montpellier Pride.

Olivier is the organiser of European Snow Pride and took some time out before the big week to tell us about the event.

Why is it important to bring Pride to the mountains?

To make LGBT+ people feel welcome. Even though it is only one week, it makes such a big difference to how people perceive the community. I have been running an event in Tignes for 10 years and in that time I have seen such a big change in the way we are treated. In the beginning people would ask really ridiculous questions but now there is a lot more acceptance. Especially because people find my clientele a joy to have in the resort. They are respectful of their surroundings and of the people living here.

How did Tignes Pride and European Snow Pride start?

The actual Pride event is separate to what I organise which is the European Snow Pride, a holiday for LGBT+ people. However, of course they are run in conjunction with each other and we have a very close tie with the Tignes organisers. Initially, it was a much smaller event, but now we have events and parties every day for the thousand or so people that come from all over the world to enjoy a week in the mountains with new and old friends.

Talk me through the Big Day.

We will start at Chalet du Bollin, where our daily Apres party takes place, finishing at the new Cocorico in Val Claret. This is where Vincent, The Mayor of Tignes and several others will make speeches and is the more serious part of the occasion where we reflect on the LGBT+ movement and its struggles. Obviously the day is supposed to be fun and a celebration, but it’s important to take stock of where we’ve come from as a community. Everyone is welcome to come out and show their support and enjoy the day as long as they are respectful of who we are.

What’s been your favourite pride event worldwide?

Good question. I think probably Madrid. Spain is very accepting of the LGBT+ community and many people come from far and wide for the Madrid Pride. It’s a very joyous occasion. We also have a float in Montpellier Pride, so even though it’s a smaller scale affair, I’ve had some wonderful times at that too.

Head over on the 17th March at 4.30 for a celebration of every colour of the rainbow.

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