During the month of June, Pit Viper is selling pride-oriented products including a flag, pin, scrunchie, stickers, and NOSO patches, and giving away all the proceeds to benefit The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people.
If for some reason you’ve been living under a rock, on a deserted island, in the Bermuda Triangle, during a global pandemic (Okay, you get a freebie for that one), and are somehow unfamiliar with the brand conceived on the ski hill and born in the back of a van, Pit Viper is best known for making decidedly ugly yet enjoyably fun, functional sunglasses (among other absurd, ridiculous, and must-have paraphernalia). The brand’s entire ethos is centered on not taking life too seriously, especially when skiing.
The reigning principle of all things Pit Viper is, of course, “Demand Respect and Authority.” And they mean it, no matter who you are.
So while their product naming, marketing strategy, and Instagram presence are often hypersexualized and unapologetically brash, the brand has carved out space in the outdoor industry (that has somehow spilled over into high fashion, adult films, the NFL, the FFA, and beyond) where all are not just welcome, but hoised on the proverbial shoulder, sprayed in the face with champagne, and celebrated—regardless of age, gender, size, race, creed, sexuality, or ability to operate a snowmobile.
Part of their mission statement is that whatever your definition of a party is, that is where Pit Viper aims to be. So where’s the party at?
“It’s anywhere. It’s a mindset. It’s an everyone-come-along, let’s have a good time, we-take-care-of-each-other attitude that encourages you to fly your flag and share the stage with other people that fly theirs,” says Dave Bottomley, company president. “Pit Viper has a diverse fan base and if we can help support them beyond just looking cool and feeling great doing it, then absolutely we will do it.”
Bottomley says The Trevor Project came into view at the suggestion of LGBTQ+ friends and employees of the brand. According to the organization’s third annual National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth, seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Yet nearly half could not access the mental health care they desired. Supporting the project’s effort to change that, Bottomley says, is just the right thing to do.
“It’s all about community. Skiers are part of a large, diversifying community. Some people have an easier path through life than others. When a stereotypical skier comes to mind, it’s probably an affluent, white, middle-aged male,” says Bottomley. “It’s important to shift the paradigm to represent and include skiers from all walks of life. If this helps skiers identify that the ski community is broader than they think, then we are making baby steps in the right direction.”
The Trevor Project has trained counselors here to support you 24/7. If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the TrevorLifeline now at 1-866-488-7386 or go here to get help now.