Whistler Pride CEO Dean Nelson will be recognized in Toronto this month as the LGBT Tourism Leader of the Year.
The award will be presented by Travel Gay Canada on June 15 as part of the fifth annual LGBT Summit of the Americas, honouring a man who has spent years as a champion for LGBT rights and tourism.
“It’s just a wonderful recognition from my peers and some of my mentors to acknowledge some of the work I’ve done over the last 10 years,” Nelson said. “It’s a pretty big moment for me.”
The director of the Whistler Pride festival, one of North America’s largest gay ski weeks, Nelson was instrumental in establishing the Olympics’ first LGBTQ pavilion, Pride House, for the 2010 Winter Games in Whistler.
He applauded the community for embracing one of Whistler’s longest running events and moving the conversation forward locally.
“Whistler has come a long way and I’m very proud of our community for being able to take on some of my wild ideas and say, ‘Let’s go for it, let’s be that leader, let’s be that trailblazer and put ourselves out there,’” he said. “I appreciate that about our community and many of our hotel partners.”
Whistler will unveil two rainbow-coloured Pride crosswalks on Main Street this September to coincide with this year’s ArtWalk.
On Sunday, Nelson spoke about his evolution as an advocate over the past decade-plus.
“When I started the journey back in 2006 when we took over Whistler Pride, I didn’t really know much about the gay community. I was hoping to get engaged and learned more about it,” he recalled.
“As I continued engaging different aspects of our community, it became more important for me to be that advocate and try and make a difference in our local community and on the world stage.”