How to Spot a Gay Snowboarder

All photos courtesy of

Thanks to androgynous snowboard gear and lots of layers, it can be hard to tell if someone is male or female on the hill, much less judge their sexual preference, not that it matters.  But we figured, if anyone knows how to pick out the gays and lesbians on the hill (not that there’s anything wrong with that), it’s Chris French, the owner of Ski Bums. Chris’s organization puts together trips for LGBT skiers and snowboarders to glamorous locations around the world, a chance for gay skier and snowboarders to unite and shred. So read on to learn what to look for and remember, acceptance is all the rage.

Where are most gay snowboarders who come on your trips from?

We’ve got more than 1,500 members from all fifty states – but we got our start in NYC, so we still have quite a few New Yorkers. That said, many of ‘em are folks who grew up in mountain states like Colorado, Utah, Vermont and California.

What’s the ability level of most gay snowboarders?

About half are intermediates, but we’ve got a lot of serious shredders! Thirty percent of the BUMS are expert riders.


They ride obscure snowboards.

What type of terrain do most of the gay snowboarders on your trips enjoy?

It depends on where we are. When we host an East Coast trip, for example, we’ll have a sizable group of people who are relatively new to the sport; they’ll hang out all day on the groomers and set their own goals – they just might be praying to make it down their first black diamond without biting it. But when we take trips to major destinations — like Japan, Bariloche, Chamonix or our upcoming hell trip to Alaska — people will be riding the hardest terrain they can find. Only a handful of our riders are real tricksters who spend the day in the parks or pipes; on last year’s trip to Jackson Hole, our advanced riders spent every day off-piste in the sidecountry.

Do gay snowboarders dress better than straight snowboarders?

On the mountain? I hate to say this, but no, not really! The stereotype doesn’t apply… the gay boarders I know aren’t usually the ones in the huge oversized multi-colored outfits that grab your attention on the chair.

Really, there’s no gay mountain fabulousness?

Okay, fine, they may have chosen their lime-green goggle lens because it matches the accent color on their helmet, gloves, and bindings. But to tell the truth, gay snowboarders dress pretty much exactly the same as straight snowboarders.

How old are the gay snowboarders you’ve met?

A whole range. I know some awesome dudes who have been boarding since the early 80’s and they’re retired now – and last year, we got to do an amazing afternoon with high school kids from Park City High School’s GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance), where we met 14-year-old gay boarders. They had never met any gay grownups who loved the mountains as much as they do. That was an inspiring day.

SkiBums8They ride the chairlifts!

Who’s the best gay snowboarder you’ve ever met?

Best at being gay? Best at snowboarding? Or just “The Best!” in all respects?

Best at snowboarding.

Hmmm. There a few out gay snowboarding instructors at Jackson Hole who have incredible technical skills. There’s also a group of young locals who ride just about every weekend at Whistler-Blackcomb, and some of those guys are gay. I got one of ‘em to wear my helmet cam for a few runs last year, and the footage was insane. But like all of us, I’ve met incredible snowboarders where the subject of who they love simply never came up, and I’ve learned not to assume that just because a guy is masculine, or just because a girl is feminine, doesn’t mean that they may not be gay.


They drink beer!

Alright, so you can’t tell. Enough of that, let’s get serious. Statistically there are enough pro snowboarders that at least one of them must be gay. Why don’t you think there are any openly gay (male) snowboarders? (There are definitely a few out lesbians!)

I truly hope that will change soon. There are pro riders who have come out socially – their friends and family know that they’re gay, lesbian or bi – but they’ve never said anything to the press. I met Travis Rice while SKI BUMS was hosting a trip to Chile. He was down there filming “The Art of Flight.” He told me that top-level male snowboarders had come out to him personally.

Why hasn’t any of them come out to the press? I’m not sure. I think the atmosphere is ready for it. Snowboarding is about freedom and individuality. It embraces counter-culture dynamics from people who don’t play by the rules. No matter who you are, of course it’s scary to be the first. But as other out athletes have learned — like former NBA player John Amaechi, who’s a good friend of mine — simply making one public statement can be enough to inspire an entire generation. Elite snowboarders who are gay have an incredible opportunity. When you’re being bullied in school, or simply feeling like you don’t fit in, one role model can be enough to help a gay teen make it through the tough years.

SkiBumsWomenAnd don’t forget about lesbians.

Going into Sochi, how would you like to see snowboarding respond to Russia’s new anti-gay laws?

What’s happening right now in Russia is horrific. Under these new laws, I could be tossed in jail and deported for simply holding hands with a boyfriend. Any public statement in support of LGBT people – even if you’re straight – is against the law. They’ve already banned all foreign adoptions of Russian children to anyone in a country that permits same-sex marriage, and they’re proposing a new piece of legislation that would make it a crime for gay people to raise even their own biological children.

In some ways, I’m glad that Russia is hosting the Olympics. It’s bringing international scrutiny to a frightening program of oppressive laws, and Russian LGBT people need us to stand up and help protect them. Unfortunately, the IOC has very strict rules about political statements from participating Olympians, but they’ve pledged that they will allow no discrimination against LGBT athletes. For its part, Russia has pledged that it will uphold its laws – so it’s anybody’s guess what’s actually going to happen. The best and most powerful thing that any top-tier snowboarder could do would simply be to come out, as Aussie snowboarder Belle Brockhoff recently did. There were two dozen openly gay Olympians in London, and I think we could experience a tremendously powerful symbolic moment if an out gay athlete wins a medal in Sochi.

For equality-minded straight allies, Athlete Ally recently launched a campaign called “Uphold Principle 6,” where Olympians are holding the IOC to their pledge that every individual must be able to practice “without discrimination of any kind.”

When a top-tier snowboarder comes out, I hope we’ll see a full embrace from the snowboarding world, with public statements of support from sponsors, gear makers and riders everywhere. I happen to know a few hundred snowboarders who will be very, very inspired when that day finally arrives.

Until then, I hope snowboarders will simply do what they do best. Get out on the mountain, be themselves, and let nothing hold them back from having a blast out there!

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  • romberto culoso

    Thanks yobeat, whilst the rest of the snowboard media world is turning into some kind of buzfeed-alpine-fuckfest you’re dealing with important issues in an interesting and (OMG) funny way. Keep it up.

  • Oh Henry

    In the 2nd last paragraph it sounds like he is ‘hinting’ or ‘hoping’ that the one is shaun white

  • bpayton6

    this is a really well done article on a really important topic. thanks yobeat!

  • karnkarn

    This article addresses an important issue related to any person’s life, sexuality. Embrace it because it is an integral part of being a human being.

  • tickledick

    Every snowboarder turns gay when they’re drunk anyway. I think. Or is it just me?

  • basshole

    first piece of actual journalism i’ve seen on this site. well done

  • Gay for Govy

    There are a lot of gay skiers and snowboarders that come to Mt. Hood each weekend. What really surprises them is that they can have a good time at Charlie’s without being bothered.
    And for those of you that go hatin, remember that the more Gay people hang out in a ski town, the better chances the straights will have with hooking up cause it makes the straight dude to straight chick ratio better than what it actually appears. Plus Gay dudes always bring the hot chicks.
    Like others, I’m surprised at the “real talk” that you wrote about.

  • Dicksquad

    What is this shit? Journalism on Yobeat?
    Hopefully Shaun White comes out though, he’s already basically a figure skater in a halfpipe sponsored by Target and owns a razor scooter company. It wouldn’t surprise me at all

  • TWBiz

    We’re too homophobic to run a story like this.

  • An Actual Gay Snowboarder

    Wow, YoBeat. Your attempt to shed light on an important topic really just pigeon-holed ‘gay snowboarders.’ I’m an out lesbian and have been working in the snowboard industry since I was old enough to, and my snowboard community was the last group of people I wanted to come out to. Because of shit like this. I have huge respect for Ski Bums as an organization, but the way in which you addressed them (trying to build a profile of the typical gay snowboarder) proved that we have a long way to go. Our sexuality does not overlap with our passion for snowboarding. It does not define how good we are, what terrain we ride or how well we dress. Just like yours doesn’t. “Don’t Give a Fuck About Spotting Gay Snowboarders, Be Open to Hearing About Their Lives if You Happen to be Their Friend, and Don’t Assume They Want to Make Out With You (Because Gaydars Are a Thing and You Are Probably Gross)” as a title would have been a step in a better direction. Thanks for trying though. <3

  • hehe

    Ive found that gay snowboarders usually wear yobeat sweatshirts, hats, or t-shirts. : )

  • JP Walker

    Dammit travis, you promised you wouldn’t tell!

  • Fag here, this kind of holiday is retarded and for people put ‘gay’ first and ‘snowboarder’ second.

    I don’t give a damn if you also enjoy the D, why make it the most important part of your identity?

    Just go ride with your homies and tell them you’re gay if you have to.

  • @ An Actual Gay Snowboarder

    I’ve been reading snowboard magazines and going to snowboard websites regularly for more than fifteen years. This is THE FIRST article I have seen on the subject of LGBT snowboarders, and you are going to hate on it?!

    Are there problems in the way it was written, yes, but it is on the whole a completely positive view on the subject. Not to mention, the questions about ‘how to spot a gay snowboarder’ are essentially softballs thrown out so Chris French can dispel these stereotypes.

  • butchcassidy

    Haha, “An Actual Gay Snowboarder” or another “Angry Bull”. Stereotypes, my god they can crack you up sometimes. Now anyway, who’s down for some shirts that say, “Butt Fuckin’ & Party Boardin'”???

  • playahatin

    Who gives a fuck! Nyjah is most likely gay and he is rewriting skateboarding.

  • wait…really?

    “they drink beer?” “they ride obscure snowboards?”…this article is so beyond disrespectful it’s unbelievable. “they” is like trying to classify all gays as one entire homogenous group of people as if they are so different from “us” as straight people. who the fuck cares if you’re gay or straight riding a snowboard. snowboard is about fun not sexuality. the fact that you would try to write an article that would allow you to distinguish between the two really blows my mind. you might have lost a reader for this one. you should be ashamed, Brooke.

  • Notgay

    Good article yobeat even tho it was gay

  • turnupfortits

    this is gay

  • poop

    **refer to the jenkem alex olson interview**

  • Just Like Us!

    Apparently some readers aren’t catching the JOKE here (I’m looking at you, “wait…really?” and “An Actual Gay Snowboarder). The whole point of this article — and the captions — is a reference to Us Weekly’s “Stars are Just Like Us!” columns… gay snowboarders are just like the rest of us. They drink beer. They ride chair lifts. They ride obscure snowboards. Although mine isn’t all that obscure.

    Anyway I had never heard of Ski Bums but I just feel happier knowing that gay and lesbian boarders are riding alongside us and even if they can’t get married everywhere (yet), the snowboarding world is cool with them.

  • p money and the titty bangers

    If you’re not banging tits you are gay… period

  • lando

    I’m actually surprised at how welcoming/respectful the Yobeat comments have been for this article. Turns out some of you little gremlins are human beings.

  • Seattle Bar fly

    So I saw a scribbling on a wall in a Seattle bar bathroom that said Lando is gay.
    Perhaps this is who Travis was referring too? The speculation is insane and I doubt anyone is going to be lining up to say me first! That said I’m pretty sure it was Nima Jalali. Little midget with tight pants loves riding pipe. Just check out the old neoproto videos. He’s such a fashionable dresser.

  • Miley cyrus circuis


  • mont

    Am I the only one around here that realizes yobeat is blatantly milking the yobeat commenters for more content to read dramatically?

  • @Mont

    I don’t know, why don’t you phone up your buddy Jesse Ventura

  • strait snowboarder

    y’all are a buncha fags its a fuckin’ yobeat article

  • Noname

    I compete as a pro and I’m gay…family and friend know,never officially came out but will be showing my support during the games in Sochi

    • Maximus

      Noname, why not say who you are? Or at least how we will recognize your support at Sochi? Gay snowboarder here.

    • Maximus

      Noname, why not say who you are? Or at least how we will recognize your support at Sochi?

  • Another Actual Gay Snowboarder

    Nice to see YoBeat running this. Sure, some of the questions are asked with a perspective that might seem a little ignorant (sorta reminds me of the Stevie Bell interview and all the ‘black’ questions), but the audience for YoBeat has to be considered. Read the comments; even after Chris’s replies about persona, look, etc., there are still some idiots associating sexual orientation negatively (Shaun White being gay) or hanging on to stupid stereotypes (Nima’s style of dress). I agree with the opinion above that states that the questions were asked such that some of the preconceived notions about the LGBTQ crowd could be dispelled. Also, Chris sounds like a more tradional/all mountain-type rider, and the not the typical rider featured on YoBeat, which makes some of it come off a little more awkward than it should. Brooke isn’t an idiot, and this article could have been spun far more progressively, and ‘traditionally intelligently’, but I’m not sure if it’d be more or less effective for this type of crowd. Bringing this type of thing to this crowd is a good start, so overall, thanks, YoBeat. Too bad only a few got the “Just Like Us!” bit in it. This is especially dope because I came out about a year ago and my dudes that I snowboard with were some of the first of my homies to know. It didn’t change a thing with them.

    BTW – if anyone sees me lapping the park at Stevens this year, feel free to say “haaaaaaaaaaay” …that is, if you can point me out, hah! It might be tough considering almost everyone approaches a down rail with limp wrists.


  • fugyomomma

    this shit was gay as hell!

  • Bryce Dale

  • Icecoastkid

    I’m suprised, this is actually a great article. Absolutely hilarious, yet meaningful

  • crack apology

    I still see plenty of comments on yobeat calling people fags and this is gay that’s gay. The positive comments here give me hope though that that shit will come to an end on yobeat.

  • KY Heli :oO
  • Mark Hoyt


  • M

    OH DUDE! it’s called Ski BUMS cause it’s for the gays and they use the butt as a vag!
    real talk though/tho/doe I’d like to see the whiteboard from that brainstorming session. I wonder how many “pole” themed nicknames got rejected

  • preperation H

    fuck faggets

  • Vermonster

    I don’t understand how people are saying this is the first article written about gay snowboarders…Yobeat has write-ups about Summit County all the time…

  • Media Man


  • Lyrical wordsmith genius

    Satire is so much funnier when people don’t get it and think its offensive. This was well done YoBeat.

  • Lana

    Dear author, I am sorry, that you’ve been so misled about that Russian law. In spite of your fears there will be NO problems of holding hands with your boyfriend in Sochi, or being gay, as those rights are protected under the Constitution in Russia, and nobody was saying anything of taking those away from you. There are plenty of gay government officials, movie stars, artists in Russia and they are doing just fine. The law that everybody went crazy about was just a general law protecting MINORS (KIDS) from propaganda of alchohol, pornography, any sexual, INCLUDING gay relationships. Kids should stay kids, they should not be forced or seduced in any kid of area where they are not able to make decisions for themselves. Once they are of age they may choose to become gay, straight, or bi, sleep around or keep themselves for the special person, etc. I wish people would stop creating panic and faulty enthusiasm about things that aren’t even there! All the best in your snowboarding adventures!

  • Canuzzi

    Well, there is one open gay pro snowboarder in Germany. Daniel Rajcsanyi is one of Germany best urban freestylers and make his sexually public to the scene with some style (He trolled also a Nike Video Contest with this – Warning! the Viedo is very “European”):

  • Jeff DeForge

    I’m a gay snowboarder and I love beer and obscure snowboards, well done!

  • Kamo

    At first, I wondered if this article was going to be homophobic based in the title, but it’s just sarcastic. Breaking stereotypes, etc. What’s ironic is I’ve been harassed more for being a snowboarder than being gay. Back in the 80’s, I was cursed and spit at by skiers for being one of the first snowboarders on the mountain.