Rainbow in the Desert: How Palm Springs Became an LGBTQ+ Oasis

What are the first things that come to mind when you picture Palm Springs? Perhaps it’s a relaxing round of golf, world-class poolside parties, or watching the sunset over the gorgeous desert landscape.

But did you know Palm Springs is also an oasis for the LGBTQ+ community? In fact, it has the highest per capita population of gay-identifying residents and businesses in the country, with the gay population accounting for over half of Palm Springs.

How did Palm Springs become the U.S oasis for LGBTQ+ people? Read on to find out.

The History

According to gay and lesbian history expert David Wallace, “Old Hollywood” can be given credit for the migration of LGBTQ+ people to beautiful Palm Springs.

Palm Springs was just far enough away from L.A. that they could get away for a bit to the privacy of a small, underpopulated place to live the life they desired — without the paparazzi and other coworkers threatening their careers.

Celebrities like Cary Grant and Greta Garbo all spent plenty of time enjoying the discretion of Palm Springs, and Cary Grant even bought a home here.

Suddenly, Palm Springs had become a place where LGBTQ+ people under the public eye could go to be their true selves.

Pride and Other Fun Events Around Palm Springs

 

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If celebrations are what you’re seeking, Palm Springs is certainly the place to be.

The Greater Palm Springs Pride Fest, for example, is one of the biggest LGBTQ+ events in the entire country, bringing one big rainbow-colored party to the valley from November 1st through 3rd.

Pride Fest includes a large, stimulating parade as well as live music and a block party you won’t forget, all full of people excited to be their genuine selves amongst friends.

More of a movie person than a parade person? Check out Cinema Diverse, an annual LGBTQ+ film festival showcasing talented filmmakers from around the world.

This one-of-a-kind festival takes place in the dynamic Palm Springs Cultural Center. It occurs September of every year and features the work of over 300 filmmakers to over 5,000 audience members.

If you can’t make it to either of those events, don’t worry: Palm Springs has drag shows, arts events and LGBTQ+ parties year-round. Bookmark the Greater Palm Springs LGBT calendar to stay up to date on all the fun.

An Entirely LGBTQ+ Identifying Government

Yes, you read that correctly: Palm Springs has recently established the first all-LGBTQ+ city council in the history of the United States. How’s that for representation?

According to council member Geoff Kors, the process happened very naturally. Just like many other city councils, the candidates were chosen according to their merits. Many didn’t realize they all identified with the LGBTQ+ community until after the elections.

In contrast with the political state of the rest of the country, it’s easy to see how this casually-executed historical landmark is a great example of why Palm Springs is a utopia for the gay community.

The Scenery

Gay, straight, however you identify, chances are you too are a sucker for beautiful scenery. Palm Springs doesn’t let anyone down when it comes to beautiful settings that could put a lump in your throat.

The stunning site of the expansive desert meeting snow-capped mountains alone is enough to make you feel as if you’ve entered a dreamland.

There are plenty of ways to take it all in, too. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, for example, is the largest rotating tramcar in the world.

It takes you from the heat of the desert into the scenic mountains where you can cool off in temperatures that are 30-40 degrees cooler than where you began. Along the way, you’ll enjoy picturesque views of the desert haven that is Palm Springs.

The infamous Joshua Tree National Park is a must-see in Palm Springs as well. You’ll feel as if you’ve traveled through time walking amongst the ancient boulders and trees laid out around the desert landscape.

Perks for Seniors, Too

Just because Palm Springs loves to party doesn’t mean it’s only for the 50 and under crowd. Palm Springs has perks for all ages, especially seniors.

In June of this year, it was named the top spot for LGBTQ+ seniors to not only visit, but to retire in and enjoy the rest of their lives on a vacation where they can be their true selves.

There are even LGBTQ+ retirement homes — for example, places like Stonewall Gardens boast a welcoming and supportive environment with beautiful scenery, delicious dining options and fun activities to boot.

Are you convinced yet? Between the events celebrating the LGBTQ+ identity in all its colors and opportunities to connect with nature as well as form multi-generational bonds with other people, it’s easy to see why the LGBTQ+ community thrives in Palm Springs.

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